Since the start of 2016, much has transpired that impacts the community.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed in the near future the city will receive $2.1 million from the federal government, and this money will be applied toward Rio Rancho’s water/wastewater operations.

This money dates back to an agreement from 2007 for an arsenic treatment facility the city constructed in order to meet federal requirements. After many years of no movement on this issue, recent efforts by the city and its congressional representatives helped bring about this partial reimbursement. Approximately $4 million still remains owed to the city by the federal government and obtaining this money will be a priority for me as your mayor.

The 2016 session of the New Mexico Legislature ended Feb. 18. Thanks to the efforts of our state legislators, coming out of this session is capital outlay funding slated for a variety of purposes and projects that are beneficial to Rio Rancho.

Some highlights include money for emergency medical equipment, police vehicles, roadway extensions and Little League fields.

Identified in the statewide general obligation bond questions that would go before voters for their approval this November is funding for two very important projects that would be located in Rio Rancho. Earmarked for a second senior center is $3.4 million. With this funding, the city would be able to finish a phase of this project which includes completing design plans, securing a location, and then making necessary land improvements in anticipation of constructing a second senior center in the future.

Furthermore, receiving funding via this bond cycle for this phase of the project gives the city the necessary and needed time to plan for the recurring costs to operate the center once it’s constructed.

Eight million dollars for the construction of a second building at UNM West that will have a health care education focus has been programmed. This money would be paired with $12 million the city has already committed to the project from Rio Rancho’s voter-approved higher education facilities gross receipts tax. With this combined funding in place, a second building will be constructed, jobs will be created and expanded educational opportunities in the needed field of healthcare would be available and benefiting the entire region by 2018.

All that I have just noted in terms of capital outlay projects and sending bond questions to fund specific projects to the voters still requires Gov. Susana Martinez’s approval, and she has until March 9 to do so. I believe these projects are in line with the state’s priorities to have funding allocated so that specific work can be completed in a timely manner and to support initiatives that further education, job creation, and economic development.

This busy and important time for the community reaches a pinnacle with Tuesday’s city election. Because of our city’s historically low voter turnout, very few are making decisions that affect us all. This is something we must start to change.

 On my Facebook pages, I am challenging Rio Rancho voters to be “1 in 10,000” to have their voice heard by voting in this election. If voter turnout reaches the goal of 10,000, it will be almost double the number that voted in recent city elections.