Mayoral State of the City 2020
2020 should be a very significant year for the City of Socorro, its citizens, City employees and Administration.
—Mayor Ravi Bhasker
— read more —
111 School of Mines Road
P.O. Box K
Socorro, New Mexico 87801
The City’s Administration will be looking for funding to purchase new software that will allow the City to be more accurate in our utility tracking and billing. The new software will also provide the capacity to add a new utility, which will be the new municipal electric system. In 2019 the City was a protestant in the Socorro Electric Cooperative (SEC) rate increase request, which we won. This has kept the SEC electricity rate at, or close to, their current levels. To promote economic development, and alleviate economic hardships for current SEC members, the City will continue to pursue the development of the municipal electric utility.
Another upgrade the City is seeking funding for is a new, modern 911 system. The current system is antiquated and units are starting to fail. The City is also speaking with Socorro County on handling the dispatch duties for their departments. Currently, County dispatch calls are transferred to Las Cruces, then dispatched back to the County. We only feel it makes more sense to handle the County dispatch calls locally.
The City Council and residents have made the remodel of the Finley Gymnasium complex a priority on the City’s Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP). The City is seeking funding to have construction plans developed in time to apply for the next Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). If approved by the CDBG Commission, the City would begin the project by replacing all Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning units and update antiquated wiring. Another request from the community was to include a “makers’ space”, which the City has asked the designers to include. The entire project would take approximately three to four years to complete if approved by the CDBG Commission every year. Thanks to an appropriation from the City’s Legislative representation, new, more accessible bathrooms have been installed. The complex continues to offer a youth program, an after school program, exercise equipment and numerous recreational opportunities.
The City has begun a sewer line and water line replacement project on Bullock Avenue. Though you may have seen a slight increase in your utility bills, the increase is to fund a $25 million dollar sewer replacement project that will keep our system functioning properly for decades. Along with this project, the City is hoping to work with New Mexico Tech to secure funding for a complete reconstruction of Bullock Avenue. As the main arterial to and from Tech, the City would like to add landscaping, sidewalks and lighting. The final project would look much like the project completed on School of Mines Road. The City’s Administration has met with the New Mexico Secretary of Transportation and his staff to begin the discussion on securing this funding, along with the funding of other street projects.
Construction of the new Convention Center has begun and should be completed in 2020. The Convention Center will house displays previously on show at the El Camino Real Historic Trail Site. These displays offer a great education in the history of Socorro and our surrounding areas.
The City continue to explore affordable broadband solutions for our area. We have been working with a company to get the City ready to apply for a ReConnect America grant that would help us build the infrastructure necessary to accomplish our goal.
Departmentally, the audit for fiscal year 2019 was returned with no findings. This was accomplished by the finance department following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and all other departments following City practices and procedures.
The fire and police departments continue to offer emergency services with smaller staffs. Though hiring and retaining qualified police officers, EMTs and firemen his been a challenge, these departments continue to provide excellent services to our community. This is accomplished through the extra efforts provided by our current officers, EMTs and fire fighters.
The library continues to flourish. The adult and youth programs implemented at the library have been very successful with great community participation. The community also makes frequent use of the meeting space offered at the library. The library hosts many cultural events at different times of the year that are free to the public.
The street department continues to do a great job keeping our streets in good repair. This department saves the City an enormous amount of money by completing projects in-house, rather than contracting out for services. As we do every year, the City will again be applying for Local Government Road Funds funding through the New Mexico Department of Transportation. These grants are what allows the City to complete many street projects that would otherwise be unaffordable for the City. We will also be asking our Legislative Representation for Capital Outlay money to help with matching funds and minor street projects, again performed in-house.
Again, thanks to our Legislative Representation, the animal shelter is in the process of purchasing, installing and equipping a new office building. The building will provide more office spaces for staff, as well as a “meet and greet” area for prospective animal adopters and the animals.
The rodeo and convention center have come a long way. Events are planned throughout 2020 with almost every weekend hosting an event. The arena received national attention as the facility won the “Best Footing” award presented by Justin Boots. The City has entered a new era with the Socorro County Fair Board as the new arena now hosts their Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo during the County fair.
The landfill continues to operate efficiently and in compliance with the guidelines from the New Mexico Environmental Department. The City continues to provide recycling services at the landfill and two Saturdays per month at the plaza. In 2020 we will beginning planning for the opening of the third cell at the landfill. The City landfill offers extremely affordable tipping fees and excellent customer service. The solid waste department began delivering new commercial dumpsters in 2019 and will continue distributing them throughout 2020.
The gas department ensures the City has plenty of natural gas during our cold winter nights. This is accomplished through hourly monitoring of pressure in the system. Upgrades to the system over the last two years have also increased the capacity of the system, ensuring users has the natural gas they need.
The water department continues to respond to leaks and monitors wells to ensure City residents have access to water when and where they need it. At the City water treatment facilities, the department monitors the system to ensure lead, arsenic and other impurities are removed from the water.
In 2020, the City hopes to increase our involvement with Puerto Seguro. More and more people are needing assistance from this great volunteer group and the City is willing to help in areas we can be of service.
Lastly, though we have been required to raise utility rates to qualify for loans to implement the infrastructure improvements listed above, the City Council and Mayor have not increased General Fund Gross Receipt Taxes in over thirty years. There is expected to be an increase in Gross Receipt Taxes in July of 2020. However, this increase is being implemented by the County and not the City Council and Mayor.
I hope to hear from any of our constituents. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to stop by City Hall, email or call.