Rio Rancho voters can decide on three proposed general bonds for roads, public safety and quality of life projects in the upcoming municipal elections.
General obligation bonds are government loans repaid through property taxes.
Early voting begins on Tuesday and election day is March 1.
City Manager Matt Geisel said approving the three bonds would keep the property tax rate at the same level, not increase it, because the new bonds would replace those the city has paid. He warned that if the value of a property increased, the tax bill would rise accordingly, but the tax rate itself would remain the same.
If all three bonds fail, the tax rate would drop by about $7 per month per $100,000 of value, he said. This means that the property tax bill would decrease by $168 per year for a $200,000 home.
“But it’s holding us back in some things,” city spokeswoman Annemarie Garcia said.
Geisel said when voters rejected a 2011 road bond, it set back work on city streets by five years, but the deteriorating pavement had a multiplier effect that was equivalent to a setback of seven or eight. year.
“If you defer a dollar, it will cost more in the end,” he said.
The proposed road bond, the fourth on the ballot since 2016, would raise $10.61 million to rebuild:
• Boulevard Enchanted Hills from NM 528 to Paseo del Volcan;
• Northern Boulevard from NM 528 to Rockaway Boulevard;
• 19th Avenue from NM 528 to Golf Course Road;
• Quantum Road from NM 528 to Northern; and
• Spring Drive from Unser Boulevard to Mesa Road.
It’s about 5 1/3 miles of roads. Geisel said the money raised includes contingency funds in case project costs exceed forecasts.
At the same time, the water and sewage lines under these streets would be replaced with funds separate from the city’s utility fund. Geisel said the local soil is corrosive to the lines, meaning they need to be replaced sooner, and he wouldn’t want to destroy a new road to replace the pipes.
“We took a big bite out of the apple” by fixing arteries and connecting roads with bond money, Geisel said. Now they are starting to settle more in residential areas with the spring and the 19th.
Public Security Bond
The proposed public safety bond, the third submitted to voters since 2018, would raise $3.6 million for these projects:
• Replace about twenty police vehicles;
• Replace two crime scene vehicles, one for road investigations and another for criminal investigations;
• Replace an armored personnel carrier;
• Replace the vehicle transporting the equipment during critical incidents;
• Remodel and expand public restrooms and replace the camera surveillance system at the police station;
• Replaced two fire engines, one 2005 engine with over 134,000 miles and the other a 2006 engine with over 174,000 miles;
• Replace two ambulances, a 2007 model with over 100,000 miles and a 2013 vehicle with over 129,000 miles; and
• Replacement of a 2003 fire truck.
“The Public Safety GO Bond has proven to be essential in keeping the department’s devices and facilities in good working order,” said Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Department Acting Chief James Defillippo. “Since 2018, when the bond was first approved by voters in Rio Rancho, it has generated $3.8 million for the RRFR alone. With this money, the department replaced obsolete fire engines, ladders and brushes, and completed several major capital improvement projects. »
For the police department, Garcia said current armored vehicles have aged, don’t meet ballistic protection standards, or are being reused by the military.
“The capabilities of the RRPD armored vehicles are not sufficient to meet the needs of the public and the standards of a law enforcement tactical team,” she said, citing information from the Rio Police Department. rancho.
The Lenco Bearcat that bond money would buy can travel over rough terrain and provide ballistic protection for officers and the public in tactical situations.
Geisel said the police department used to have most of its patrol vehicles at or near 100,000 miles, when they start breaking down more. Public safety obligations allowed the city to replace cars until most were within 100,000 miles.
“The Public Safety GO Bond has been instrumental in keeping Rio Rancho PD officers safe and properly equipped to do their jobs,” Police Chief Stewart Steele said. “Police units and building and infrastructure improvements have increased the efficiency and overall effectiveness of the department. This translates to an increased level of security for the citizens of Rio Rancho.
Quality of life link
The first Quality of Life Bond would pay just over $1 million for:
• Replacement of playground equipment and addition or improvement of Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility features at Enchanted Hills Park, Veja Baja Park and Rio Vista Park;
• Buy library books, movies, music, periodicals and digital services; and
• Purchase of computers, mobile access points and furniture for the libraries.
Geisel said the city can add this requirement without raising the property tax rate because the tax base has widened, allowing it to bring in more money at the same rate. Historically, money for the city library came from the state and county, but these revenue streams are unpredictable and even decline as use of the Rio Rancho library increases.
He also said that the link was not specifically for the new library planned for Enchanted Hills, but that some documents might end up there.