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Local governments hear about infrastructure, capital funding


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Counties and municipalities in southeastern New Mexico are eligible for infrastructure funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The federal agency received its appropriations Oct. 1 for its current fiscal year and will begin searching for projects to fund by January, according to Hubert Quintana, a consultant working for the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District, who spoke at a Friday meeting that the district’s board of directors held at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.

New Mexico and four other states — Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas — belong to the same region for funding. Quintana said that the other four states will receive disaster relief funding due to hurricanes and flooding. New Mexico will be eligible for money from other funds, which he estimated will be several million dollars.

“I would encourage you to please give me a call if you have any idea of a project that might work — water, sewer, streets, industrial park, buildings,” he said.

He said there are a few conditions. One is that this region will qualify only for 50-50 grants, with counties and municipalities having to find other sources of funding to match what they receive from the EDA, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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Another factor is that EDA favors projects tied to job creation or job retention. Also, the federal agency is looking for projects that benefit areas or populations considered economically distressed.

Quintana also discussed state capital outlay requests from local governmental entities to be considered by the New Mexico Legislature during its 2020 session starting in January.

He recommended that each group submit no more than five funding requests and that the amount requested for each item be kept at about $500,000 or lower. He predicted that large multimillion-dollar requests would not be considered favorably and should instead be approached as phased projects funded over several years.

Capital outlay applications from the five counties and 21 cities belonging to the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District are due to the district by 5 p.m., Oct. 18.

Several regional hearings with legislators to discuss the requests are scheduled. The one for Chaves County is due to occur at 9 a.m., Nov. 19, at the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place.

Quintana estimated that the same amount of funding will be available in 2020 as was allocated during the 2019 session. In 2019, Chaves County received $9.9 million in capital outlay funding for 29 projects.

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