City Hall Door

A project to turn the old Socorro High School into a community center tops the list of projects for which the city of Socorro will seek funding from the New Mexico Legislature in 2021.

The city is seeking $250,000 from the Legislature for the beginning stages of the project, which is projected to cost $3.3 million. It has received $100,000 so far for the project.

The project was ranked highest on the city’s latest Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan, approved by the Socorro City Council on Monday. The ICIP is essentially a wish list of projects for which the city hopes to receive funding from the Legislature and other sources between the 2022 and 2026 fiscal years.

The latest list includes 21 projects costing $65 million. Council members voted on the five projects that each believe should be highest in priority and the city ranks the projects based on averages of their choices. Ten projects received votes.

Typically, the city receives legislative funding for only a few of its highest priority projects in any single year and it usually only receives partial funding for those projects. In recent years, no more than three of the city’s priorities were funded in any single year, according to Donald Monette, city administrator. In 2020, the legislature approved $1.25 million in funding for three city projects.

Some believe local governments in New Mexico will receive less funding for ICIP projects from the legislature in 2021 than usual because of the economic impacts of the pandemic, but Monette remains optimistic, since much of the money for past ICIP allocations has come from oil and gas revenues.

“As long as there’s still demand for oil, we should get funded,” he said.

A project to repair and repave Bullock Avenue, Franklin Avenue, and Park Street is the second-ranked project on the city’s ICIP. Total project cost is estimated to be $3.5 million and the city is seeking $3.3 million for it in for fiscal year 2022.

The third-ranked project on the city’s priority list proposes to build a fixed wireless broadband network in the city at a cost of $2 million. It is seeking $205,000 to begin planning for that project in fiscal 2022.

The city is seeking $210,000 in 2022 to purchase a new administration and billing software system for all city departments, the fourth-ranked project on its ICIP list.

The fifth-ranked project on the city’s ICIP would redesign and correct flaws in the construction of the EMRTC Bridge. Total project cost is $3 million; the city is seeking $300,000 to begin work in fiscal year 2022.

In other business, the City Council approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a loan agreement with the New Mexico Finance Authority to borrow $150,000 for water system improvements.

Councilors briefly discussed two CARES Act grants the city is receiving to help address the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress approved the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill in March. Two weeks ago, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced $150 million in CARES grants to local governments.

The city is receiving a $242,061 grant to help pay for its expenses caused by the pandemic. It is receiving an additional $198,090 grant to distribute to small businesses impacted. City officials hope to have procedures in place by the end of the month for businesses that wish to apply for funds.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker told the Council on Monday that he would likely nominate a person to replace Councilor Toby Jaramillo, who died in July, at the Council’s next regular meeting in October. He said three people had so far expressed interest in filling the seat, but he welcomes other applications.

The Council must approve his recommendation. On Monday, the Council approved designating Sept. 23 as Toby Jaramillo Day in Socorro.

The City Council will next meet at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 21 to hold a public hearing for, and act on, an application for a liquor license for the Baca House Brewing Co., 115 Abeyta Ave. Its next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 19.

All council meetings are still being held virtually because of the pandemic. The meetings can be viewed online at https:// global.gotomeeting.com/ join/141174173