Woman asks city to refuse gym rental

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A member/owner of the Socorro Electric Cooperative urged the Socorro City Council not to cooperate with the SEC board of trustees in the board’s efforts to reschedule the SEC’s annual members meeting from a Saturday to a Wednesday.

The annual SEC members meeting had been scheduled for May 18, a Saturday. The SEC board of trustees, during its meeting March 28, changed the members meeting to Wednesday, May 15.

Marie Watkins addressed the City Council during the public forum of the council’s regular meeting Monday. She said member/owners prefer the annual members meeting be held at the Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech campus, where there is plenty of parking and seating for a big crowd, but the SEC board decided to hold the meeting at Finley Gym. Members adjusted to that, she said, but now the board has changed the meeting to a Wednesday afternoon when many people have to work.

“That disenfranchises a majority of your people,” Watkins said.

Watkins explained most member/owners of the electric co-op live within Socorro’s city limits.

“They’re people that you want to take care of,” Watkins said, “and provide them with a way to be heard, to vote, to participate.

“And I presume they still haven’t gotten a contract for (May) 15th. But maybe it’s not a good idea, if you want your people to be able to be represented.”

Watkins said in order for the member/owners to enact change, the SEC must have a fair way to conduct meetings.

Councilor Donald Monette, who chaired the city meeting in Mayor Ravi Bhasker’s absence, noted the SEC meeting process is not decided at Socorro City Council meetings.

“Yes, but you can decide whether to rent to them or not,” Watkins said.

Watkins said she understands it is nice for the city to have income from renting its gym, but the SEC board is “abusing the process” by scheduling its annual members meeting on a Wednesday afternoon when so many members are unable to get away from work to attend.

Monette pointed out that if the city declined to rent the gym on a Wednesday, it would not stop the SEC board from renting Macey Center.

“There’s not a lot we can control, is my point,” Monette said.

Watkins said it would be helpful if the city would say the gym is available on Saturday when a lot more people could attend.

City Clerk Pat Salome said the city currently has a verbal agreement to allow the SEC to use Finley Gym on May 18. Salome was only told Monday the board of trustees may be looking at changing the date, but he had nothing official from the co-op regarding such a change. He did not know if the gym had anything else scheduled for May 15.

“It’s our duty to make public facilities open to the public,” Salome said. “In this case, I believe you’re taking the opportunity to get the word out that that’s happening.”

Watkins urged city councilors to do whatever they can to ensure their constituents have a voice in how business is conducted at their electric co-op.

In other business, the Socorro City Council:

  • Held a public hearing to gather input on the city’s prospective sale of land in its industrial park to A-1 Quality Redi-Mix. Salome said the property is about 20 acres to be sold for $209,500, and A-1 has occupied the property for about 35 years already. No members of the public aside from council members shared any comments about the sale. The council approved the ordinance for second publication, meaning the city will now republish the ordinance and give the public 45 days to comment before the sale is final.
  • Approved a request to deed a strip of unusable city property to the neighboring property owner. The strip had been deeded to the city by a previous owner who didn’t want to own the ravine there.
  • Approved — for publication only — changes proposed in the appeals process for the city’s Police Oversight Commission. The proposed changes will be published, then the city will hold a public hearing about the changes at the council’s next meeting.
  • Approved two in-house budget resolutions to clean up line items in the city’s budget.
  • Announced the council’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. April 15.

 

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