Mayoral State of the City of Socorro
Happy New Year to our City of Socorro Community. While 2022 continues to be challenging with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Socorro has been able to move forward with many key projects and we have thankfully regained some semblance of pre- COVID living.
COVID-19 vaccinations became available at the beginning of 2021, which allowed our entire County to move to the green status fairly quickly. Rapid testing kits are now commonplace in homes for all age groups.
City Hall completed a software conversion to Tyler Incode. The updated software was necessary, as the previous software the City was utilizing was only utilized by the City of Socorro (in New Mexico) costing the City additional funds every time customized reporting was required. The new software allows customers and employees more access to essential tools. For example, employees have access to their check stubs and W-2 information electronically and on-demand, while department directors can access their budgets from their offices and have the ability to pull their own purchase order without being required to contact City Hall. Another benefit is customers now have the option of receiving e-bills as opposed to paper statements. This conversion was completed prior to October 2022 and has made processes, reporting and access more efficient.
The City Finance Department received an audit with no findings for the fourth year in a row. This is almost unheard of for governmental institutions. This is especially noteworthy, as the new financial system was being converted in the middle of our annual audit, which allowed more opportunities for errors.
Socorro Fire/Police/911 Dispatch
As expected, the Socorro Fire Department was busy in 2021. Personnel were assisting with the numerous testing and vaccination clinics in addition to their daily job duties. While running the daily Fire/EMT calls, the department also organized and held their annual matanza. This annual event raises money to take local children Christmas shopping. This past Christmas, 60 children went shopping with a Firefighter/EMT and 89 students received a book along with some City of Socorro swag.
Also in 2021, Lawrence Baca was appointed as the new fire chief. Congratulations to Mr. Baca, who has been with the department for 25 years. New fire equipment and a pumper and ladder truck were purchased in 2021 and have been delivered. Also, the purchasing process for a new ambulance started in November, 2021 and we are hoping to receive the ambulance by mid-2022.
The Socorro Police Department was also a huge help running the testing/vaccination clinics, and assisting with traffic control to keep the flow of vehicles moving smoothly. Throughout the year we rely on our officers to assist with many activities. From blocking streets for parades, to keeping the streets safe, the Socorro Police Department is continually working to keep Socorro’s small-town, friendly atmosphere. Once again, prior to the 2021 Christmas season, officers participated in the annual Toys for Tots drive. Children in the City and County benefit from this priority every year. With all the responsibilities of the department, many miles are put on our police cruisers, requiring police cruisers be replaced annually. In 2021, the Police Department, working with the Finance Department, was able to secure a grant to purchase two greatly needed new units.
In Dispatch, and through Administration’s Capital Outlay requests, the City received State Appropriation funds to accomplish a complete upgrade to our 911 system. This was a necessary upgrade as our Dispatch handles all of Socorro County EMS/Fire calls in addition to our local police calls. The previous system was out dated and slowly becoming obsolete. Dispatch is now equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to help our citizens know their calls and concerns will be attended to.
Our Animal Shelter continues to operate daily. Unfortunately, the shelter is receiving an alarming number of animals which constantly keeps it at capacity. Thankfully, with the use of Socorro County’s trailer, Shelter staff have been able to transport animals to out of state facilities, where they are adopted.
In July of 2021, the Recreation Department began some of our seasonal sports again. Baseball had an abbreviated season, with approximately 120 children participating. Flag football was held at our Sports Complex with approximately 115 playing. Our basketball season was a big hit with over 170 kids who registered to play. It was wonderful to finally have activities for our youth. Finely gym is getting final architectural design done and will be ready for construction in May, 2022. The pool will be remodeled and ready this summer. The Recreation team also started a new Facebook page which now has over 675 followers.
Our Tourism Department also re-opened in July of 2021. The staff is actively taking photos and videos of our surrounding trails and canyons to capitalize on outdoor recreation activities and tourism. With all of Socorro’s beauty, we are hoping to vamp up outdoor recreational activities and bring guests into our beloved City. Recently, the City connected the Sports Complex 5k trail to a trail that leads to Box Canyon (“The Box”). For you hikers, climbers and walkers, we hope you have an opportunity to utilize this asset.
Socorro Public Library
In July 2021, library hours returned to normal. While the library had an app for borrowing eBooks and audio books, there was a limited selection. It was decided to switch to the Libby App, which partnered our library with other libraries in the state. This helps to subsidize costs of purchasing books and audiobooks, and the opportunity to grow our virtual library. Two additional apps were added as well. These apps are free to library card holders. The first, Mango Languages, is a learning tool for over 70 different languages. The second, Creative Bug, offers online videos and craft workshops. The app contains tutorials on how to paint, knit, crochet, sew, and much more.
The Community Outreach Programs remained active during our limited office hours. The Summer Reading Program had approximately 343 participants. The most popular presentation was given by Bee Chama, informing attendees of the importance of bees in our NM ecosystem. Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) successfully distributed 380 free books to community youth. But it is not just our youth that benefit from our library services. Adults also benefit from the programs offered at the library. Grab and Go Crafts, Book Club, Adult Yoga, Tax Help, and Food for Fines were just a few activities our adult patrons capitalized on in 2021.
Our City gas crews have been busy replacing gas lines throughout Socorro. Cuba Rod, Dolores Drive, and Melrose had lines converted from 2-inch pipe to 4-inch pipe. This helps the City provide the needed fuel to keep our homes warm (and tortillas cooking) during the colder months, when capacity can be limited by demand. In addition, we extended gas lines on Fairgrounds Road and Evergreen.
The Water and Wastewater Department have been busy updating approximately 30,000 feet of wastewater lines, installing a new lift station, and new customer service connections throughout the City of Socorro. As you all have witnessed, many City streets were disrupted during these improvements, but the aging infrastructure needed to be replaced prior to any major calamities.
The landfill continues to expand as resources are consumed. Landfill personnel began the construction of two new cells. This is required to ensure there is adequate space for rubbish and to maintain the City’s landfill permit. The landfill continues to collect recyclables. This helps to extend the life of the cells as recyclables are not disposed of. When possible, some recycling is sold to other recycling centers for reprocessing. Much of the equipment at the landfill is antiquated and maintenance is a daily, on-going, task. In order to keep daily refuse routes on schedule and stay in compliance with permitting requirements, landfill staff must ensure all equipment remains operable.
For years, Bullock Avenue was in dire need of upgrading. Not only upgrades to paving, but, more importantly, upgrades for drainage, and wastewater and water line replacements. The City received $3.7 million in funding from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, as well as Capital Outlay, to help accomplish these goals. With these funds, Bullock Avenue was completely reconstructed. Everything from curbs and gutters, to drive pads, to improved drainage, to areas for future landscaping were constructed. While the completion of this project is still underway, the City is also focusing on other City streets. As priorities and funding sources continually change, the City was able to transfer funds originally designated for the Bullock project to surrounding streets.
As you have read, our wonderful City was quite fortunate to receive much needed funding to address our local priorities in 2021. It was a very busy year, and we are thankful to our community for your support and understanding throughout 2021. I sincerely hope and believe 2022 will be as prosperous, if not more so. I am grateful and thankful to all of our employees, who, without them, these projects would not be possible.
With my deepest regards,
—Mayor Ravi Bhasker