MediaRRObserver

Mayor cites need to tackle failing infrastructure soon

Fixing the city’s infrastructure is a large task and needs to start this year, Mayor Gregg Hull said Thursday.

Hull, guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, gave a presentation about the city’s past year and its goals for 2016.

2015 was a year for economic growth in Rio Rancho, Hull said, citing business openings in Plaza at Enchanted Hills, the Unser Gateway and Mariposa. To continue that growth, he said, the city should refocus on road and infrastructure repair.

“Our businesses are our life blood, so if the roads leading to our businesses don’t look good, then the businesses don’t look good,” he said.

Referring to the Rio Rancho 2015 Citizen Survey, Hull noted that 91 percent of residents agree that roads in the city need to be improved and that nine out of 10 would support a tax increase of $10 a year, for a home valued at $100,000, to help fund road projects.

Hull turned to the city’s five-year infrastructure and capital improvement plan — 2016 to 2021 — saying overall estimates for future projects total $300 million. The plan identifies utility improvements and road projects, with the former estimated at $145.7 million and the latter at $113 million. Other projects are police ($5.2 million), fire and rescue ($6.1 million), parks and recreation ($16.1 million), drainage ($5.1 million) and other projects ($8.9 million).

The mayor said there is no identified funding source for $76 million of the road projects.

“When we look at these situations, obviously there’s a lot of work to do in Rio Rancho,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of positive things but we can’t stick our heads in the sand when it comes to meeting the needs of our infrastructure.

“The problem is big and getting bigger and ignoring it or pushing it down the road is not making it any cheaper,” he said.

Hull said if voters approve a proposed road bond issue in March, $9 million generated over two years could help pay for work on two roads. Hull said the city would allot $6.5 million for the reconstruction of High Resort Boulevard from NM 528 to Broadmoor Boulevard and $2.3 million for improvements to Sara Road between NM 528 and Southern Boulevard. Both roads, Hull said, collectively draw 20,000 drivers each day.

If the bond issue is approved, the owner of a $100,000 market value house would see an estimated increase in property tax of $7.30 a year.

“One of the things I like to point out about High Resort being a good investment for the city is we have a crown jewel here in the city called the Rio Rancho Sports Complex,” he said. “We have Little Leagues that bring business to this city, we have YAFL bring business to the city… We want people to have a very positive experience with Rio Rancho, both as they come and as they leave.”

FROM ANTONIO SANCHEZ | OBSERVER STAFF WRITER
ORIGINAL ARTICLE