$1 mil in appropriations returned to county

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Funding for nearly $1 million in capital projects in Valencia County finally got the green light, after several months of uncertainty.

Funding for nearly $1 million in capital projects in Valencia County finally got the green light, after several months of uncertainty.

At the Jan. 15 county commission meeting, Valencia County Finance Director Nick Telles informed the commissioners that bonds were sold in December and the county's capital outlay projects that were approved last year have been funded.

Last May, Gov. Susana Martinez issued an executive order to halt the sale of bonds to fund local capital outlay projects until public bodies complied with the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration's auditing requirements.

Projects for Valencia County were included in that order due to poor audit findings for more than a decade.

The order was issued nearly two months after the Legislature passed the 2013 capital outlay bill and Martinez signed it.

Last week, Telles presented the commissioners with a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Mid-Region Council of Governments to administer the funds. MRCOG will act as the county's fiscal agent for the $840,000 in capital outlay and process the invoices generated to procure the purchases.

Telles said the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration made some last-minute changes to the MOU and it would only cover some of the projects. Agreements for the funding for road work on Amy and Winston roads and a fire suppression well at Bartola Canyon would need to come through the New Mexico Department of Transportation and environmental department, respectively.

"The agreement with MRCOG handles the majority of the projects — emergency generators for Manzano Vista and Meadow Lake fire stations, sheriff's department's vehicles and improvements to the animal control facilities," Telles said.

The finance director said MRCOG would only charge the county for the labor costs it directly incurred for processing invoices.

The commissioners approved the agreement on a unanimous vote.

Valencia County Manager Jeff Condrey said the administration and staff is working to get the county off the DFA's list so it can administer its own capital outlay funds.

In a recent press release, Sen. Michael Sanchez (D-Belen) said although he completely agrees that audits should be performed throughout the state, limited budgets sometimes make it difficult to comply with the requirements set by Santa Fe. This, he says, is not a reason for communities to be punished.

"A community should not suffer because of its lack of resources. Instead we should be supporting our communities who suffer the most, and assure that they are treated equally. They must be allowed those monies to not only create jobs, but to assure facilities needed to provide safety, health care and education services are available," said Sanchez in the release.

In Valencia County several capital outlay projects that were approved by the legislature during the 2013 legislative session were at a standstill, but the DFA's recent decision has resulted in most now being funded.

"I'm happy to hear that the board of finance made this decision and look forward to my constituents benefitting from this," Sanchez added.

Projects that will be administered under the MRCOG agreement are:

• $210,000 for vehicles for the Valencia County Sheriff's Department;

• $150,000 for improvements to the Valencia County Animal Control Shelter;

• $45,000 for an emergency generator at the Manzano Vista Fire Station; and

• $45,000 for an emergency generator at the Meadow Lake Fire Station.

Projects that will be administered under separate agreements are:

• $210,000 for paving on Winston Drive, Meadow Lake/El Cerro Mission area;

• $165,000 for paving of Amy Road, Meadow Lake/El Cerro Mission area; and

• $15,000 for water system improvements and a fire suppression well in Bartola Canyon.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.