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re: Placitas County
Last month you called me for a statement about Placitas County! Unfortunately, I was not quoted correctly, and the negative comments in your article about Sandoval County were never stated by me nor were they intended. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to print my original statement.
Placitas has a lot of good and honorable people with a lot of great ideas. Unfortunately, there is no legal entity within Placitas and no funding available to implement these great ideas, and we constantly run into this brick wall. It stops all progress, and we are stuck as a community. We have grown so much and so have our needs.
Sandoval County is too big and overextended to provide this community with its current needs. It is not financially and fiscally possible for this large county to direct Placitas where it needs to go. For example, we have a lot of needs for our children that are not being met. As a community, we must meet these needs. I have also heard many people state that they no longer have a voice in their own community.
For these reasons and many other reasons, many people have come to realize that we no longer need representatives from Rio Rancho, Corrales, and Cuba to direct our fate. Placitas needs to take its community into its own hands and control its own destiny.
It is beginning to look like Placitas can financially accomplish forming this new county. If it can be done without increasing taxes and without incorporating as a city, then this community needs to take a serious look at this idea. That is what the Placitas County! sign is about. It’s about opening the door to a conversation this community needs to have.
re: Placitas County would not start from scratch
Thank-you to the Signpost for starting what we hope will be a vigorous debate on the creation of Placitas County. It is important, however, that the debate go beyond generalized assertions. Data is currently available to answer almost every question concerning creating Placitas County.
Following are a few points that must be clarified from the November article:
- Placitas County would not start from scratch.
- Placitas County would receive from Sandoval County, based on property valuation, 13 to 15 percent of all moveable SandovaI County resources. It would receive 13 to 15 percent of county road equipment, heavy machinery, police cars, voting machines, office supplies, investments, debts, computers, vehicles, etc.
- The only major immediate cost would be the building of a county office, which would be of modest design and would be paid for over a long period, minimizing the financial impact. Placitas County would not have to build immediately a detention center, landfill, magistrate court, or judicial complex. The needs of a rural county of six thousand will not be anywhere near the needs of Sandoval County.
- For instance, Sandoval County has almost four hundred employees, while Placitas County would have less than two dozen.
- The budget of Sandoval County is $35 million, while Placitas County would have a budget of about $2 to $3 million.
Does this mean that we would lose services? No, because Placitas County is not a large user of services now. For example, Sandoval County maintains 1,553 miles of road, but only ninety-four of those miles are in Placitas County.
Placitas County is a very minor source of prisoners in the detention center. We could handle the few prisoners that we generate in a much more cost-effective manner by contracting with an existing detention center to house them.
Refuse removal in Placitas is done by private means and would not change with the creation of a Placitas County.
A new Placitas County would remain in the 13th Judicial District. Placitas County would have minimal judicial needs, which would likely involve no more than providing office space in the county office building for a magistrate and possibly an office for a district court clerk. The salaries of both are paid by the state.
Since the area that would become Placitas County is now staffed by the 13th Judicial District personnel, they would simply provide the same services under the new county name. Placitas County would simply join Sandoval, Valencia, and Cibola Counties.
It is a known fact among economists that smaller government is more cost effective than large government. Placitas County would be a small government, consistent with the rural lifestyle that typifies the Placitas area.
One final note: it is not correct that gross-receipts taxes are the major source of revenue for counties. Sandoval County, for instance, receives only about 10 percent of its income from gross-receipts taxes. The largest source of income for counties is property taxes, where Placitas County has a very strong base now and will have into the future.
re: “major growth” and “a healthy environment” are not synonymous
The following letter to the editor was recently published in the Albuquerque Journal. Since posting, Journal articles have been written on the Greater Rio Rancho Master Plan, and on threats by Albuquerque’s west side to secede from the city, promoted, supposedly, by dissatisfaction with the recent no-vote on road expansion. These recent events have prompted me to expand on the letter and hopefully post it here in the Signpost.
Thank you and congratulations, Albuquerque. Defeating a bill that guarantees future growth and expansion is a step toward helping to save the water supply that we all share. I’m very impressed with your intelligent recognition of the fact that developers, along with those folks who have chosen to live in outlying regions, are really the only ones truly affected by defeat of this bill as written. We’ve all seen the effects of extending and expanding roads, more homes and businesses that just bring in more people and cars, adding to the congestion, pollution, and further depletion of the aquifer.
I was born in Los Angeles in 1938. Over the years I’ve been saddened to watch a really pleasant place turn into a quagmire of congestion, pollution, and ugliness. Greater Albuquerque is much like the Los Angeles of yesteryear. Unfortunately for us, with defeat of this proposal, the developers have simply lost a battle; ultimately though, they’ll most definitely win the war. I’ve watched it happen over and over everywhere I’ve lived. I’ve also been part of the organized opposition, only to learn, much to my chagrin, that the developers always win; the most you can do is slow them down. You’ve done that; you’ve sent a message. You’ve shown the power of your vote.
Between the time I wrote this letter and the time it was posted in the October 9 Rio Rancho section of the Albuquerque Journal, a major-expansion master plan for Rio Rancho was featured in that newspaper. It’s obvious that the Rio Rancho officials are quite proud of that plan, but quite frankly, it should be cause for great concern for all of us here in the Greater Albuquerque region. Where the heck is all the water for support of that expansion going to come from? The whole of the Southwest is already on the verge of a water crisis. What about the pollution that will result from all the added industry and automobile traffic? We’ve all read that Albuquerque’s air-pollution index is right on the edge when it comes to avoiding those additional federal government control programs that are bound to affect us all.
Of course I could go on and on here on topics of congestion, sewage, waste by-products, more roads, more golf courses, cost of living, and, of course, the inevitable tax increases that will be required to pay for all this. But we all know this. We just have to keep it at the forefront of our minds when we’re asked to vote on issues that will make the growth possible. The Rio Rancho folks are going to have to be especially vigilant. Over and over again they’re going be told that growth is good and that they should vote for expansion-inducing projects that will "enhance their lifestyles." If I lived in Rio Rancho, I’d be asking myself, in return, if I’d be simply selling my soul to the devil for some short-term gain that would ultimately lead to inevitable long-term pain—pain that Rio Rancho along with its neighbors would have to endure long, long into the future.
Now we find that officials, supposedly representing the needs of Albuquerque’s west side, have threatened to promote secession from the city because of dissatisfaction with the road expansion/extension voting results. Common logic tells us that that won’t happen. If we consider all factors that would be involved in secession, not the least of which would be higher taxes for the residents of that area (even before any new west-side road bond measure), we can presume that a move of this type wouldn’t be deemed acceptable by those folks. We should all ask ourselves though, What prompted those threats? Was it really concern for the current residents, or was it a move, driven by those who most profit by further development, to take advantage of current west-side grievances in order to promote their own area expansion agenda?
We'll see another road-improvement bill within a year or two; it will also benefit the west-side residents. But if those who draft that proposal want to promote a yes vote, they'll concentrate on making a better life for current residents and will refrain from addressing developers’ desires for extension of roads for purposes of further expansion.
I've said my piece; now let me close with some final food for thought. Greater Los Angeles was a good place to live; now it’s not. Greater Albuquerque is a good place to live; let’s try to keep it that way for as long as possible. Eventually though, it's bound to end up just like L.A. (or a ghost region devoid of water). The best we can strive for, through the power of our vote, is to move that “eventually” out farther into the future, and then keep moving it out until we can move it no more. It’s imperative that we remember that “major growth” and ”a healthy environment” are not synonymous.
re: the right to question and disagree
Are we not all Americans?
There seems to be a great divide that is splitting the country right down the middle. It's us against them. If they don't agree with us, then there is something seriously wrong with them.
Whatever happened to open dialogue and debate?
There are many troubling and serious issues that we as a nation now face. And these issues are not black or white. The only way we as a nation are going to be able to deal with these issues is if we can agree that to question and disagree is what America is all about.
So I suggest maybe it is time to replace us and them with we.
—Gary W. Priester
re: your pets depend on you
Thank you to so many wonderful people who have expressed words of encouragement despite my flagging hopes of survival for my lost African Grey Parrot, Fritzi, who flew by accident out an open doorway on Sunday afternoon, November 2, into the cold blustery winds a few hours before dark.
She was scheduled to have her wings trimmed early the next morning, but took her freedom before that, leaving a very sore human heart in her wake. So many Placitans have come forth in kindness and caring. Thank you all!
Self-recrimination teaches only this: we are responsible for those loved pets we take into our home and make part of our lives in trust. Do please take care of those loving pets who depend on you.