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Governor signs capital outlay funding bill

Daniel E. Carpenter Park on Southeast Main Street is slated to receive $450,000 in funding to install a splash pad and other improvements, one of several projects locally set to benefit after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a capital outlay bill Friday. (Alex Ross Photo)

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham did not remove any of the $9.9 million in appropriations for Chaves County Friday when she signed a large capital outlay bill into law.

Lujan Grisham signed the bill on the final day she was allowed to do so for legislation passed during the recent 60-day legislative session. The cities of Roswell, Hagerman, Lake Arthur and Dexter; Eastern New Mexico State University-Roswell (ENMU-R); and the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) are among the local entities that will receive money for projects.

State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 280 (SB 280) before adjourning March 16. The bill allocated a total of $933 million for infrastructure projects and purchases statewide. Although the governor has the authority to remove individual spending items using a line-item veto or vetoing the bill altogether, Lujan Grisham used her line-item veto power sparingly.

Lujan Grisham stated in a Senate Executive Message issued Friday that she vetoed $9.5 million or 1% of the money appropriated in SB 280. The projects that had been vetoed were removed because they had lacked proper planning or were not yet ready to proceed.

The bill altogether funds more than $850 million in infrastructure upgrades, according to the message.

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“New Mexico individuals and families deserve that we do our best to allocate capital resources to projects that meet the needs of local communities and prioritize our most significant needs and common goals. Viewed as a whole, this legislation furthers those ends,” Lujan Grisham wrote in the message.

The approach was a clear departure from that of Lujan Grisham’s predecessor, Republican Susana Martinez. In her message, Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said the previous administration had a tendency to strike projects from a bill that appropriated $10,000 or less for a project.

Lujan Grisham though wrote in her message to the Senate that she would not do that because sometimes small projects can have a major impact on a community.

The projects were financed with excess money — the state’s $1.1 billion surplus — and allowed Roswell to get a good share of capital outlay funding, Louis Najar, engineer for the city of Roswell, said Monday.

“The Legislature was very generous to Roswell,” he said.

SB 280 directs funding to five projects in the city of Roswell. The projects include $783,250 to rehabilitate pavement on South Main Street from Hobson Road to Gayle Street.

The city will get $800,000 to remove and replace a bridge at Lea Avenue and West Deming Street. Najar said the existing bridge has been at the location since the 1930s and the new bridge will be wider and equipped with sidewalks and guard rails.

An appropriation of $750,000 is included in SB 280 to upgrade the city’s water system through the replacement of valves on major city waterlines. Najar said the money will cover expenses to replace about three large-diameter valves in the area of South Main and Poe streets.

SB 280 also includes $516,000 for improvements to the General Douglas McBride Veteran’s Cemetery located within the South Park Cemetery and $450,000 for the installation of a splash pad as well as benches and safety equipment at Daniel E. Carpenter Park on Southeast Main Street.

Chaves County will also get money pumped into several of its capital projects. Some of those large projects for Chaves County include $569,000 for the installation of culverts for the detention pond on Hobson Road, and to pave the section of Hobson Road from Hummingbird Lane to Baker Road.

The county will receive $250,000 to repair and replace components, signage and deliminators on bridges on Red Bridge Road at Berrendo Creek and Rio Hondo.

The county will also get $150,000 for a planned exercise trail near the Chaves County Administrative Building; $400,000 for a water tanker for the Sierra Volunteer Fire Department; $450,000 for the replacement of historic windows in the Chaves County Courthouse and $100,000 to buy and equip wheelchair accessible vans for the Southeast New Mexico Veteran’s Transportation Network.

Another $40,000 will go to purchase and outfit a vehicle to be used by the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District in Chaves County, according to the text of SB 280.

ENMU-R will get $1.3 million for projects according to SB 280.

Most of that money — $1.2 million — will be used for the upgrade of an electricity supply line; $100,000 to purchase simulation mannequins and virtual reality systems for health care education programs and $90,000 for improvements to the computer laboratory systems for audiovisual technology programs.

NMMI will receive $541,000 made available for its projects in SB 280. A total of $500,000 will go to security upgrades and the remaining $41,000 for a backup system for information technology.

The community of Hagerman will also get a share of capital outlay funding from SB 280. That money will cover expenses for several projects and purchases including $500,000 for sewer system projects; $350,000 to buy a sewer vacuum truck; $42,000 to purchase and equip a heavy duty truck and $195,000 for improvements to street curbs, gutters and to make sidewalks more handicap accessible.

Lake Arthur is slated to get $300,000 to purchase a vacuum and jetter truck; $50,000 to buy and equip a truck and another $60,000 for a heavy duty truck, according to the bill.

The Lake Arthur Municipal School District will also receive money including $240,000 for an activity bus; $150,000 to refurbish running tracks and $140,000 for new bleachers, and another $400,000 for high school improvements, according to SB 280.

The community of Dexter will get $288,750 from SB 280 to build, purchase and install floating docks at Lake Van, according to the bill.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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