The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

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Walmart gives check to Bernalillo

Bernalillo Wal-Mart store manager Ryan Donnell presents $5,000 check designated for youth programs to the Town of Bernalillo’s mayor Patricia Chavez. New Wal-Mart stores present a donation to every community when they move in on a local economy. The new store will open on March 5.

County Line

—DON LEONARD, SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN

Success of any business or public agency depends on its employees.

From the top to the bottom of the County’s organizational chart, dedicated employees work hard on behalf of residents. During the past year, County employees have improved our infrastructure, senior centers, health and DWI programs, and fire and emergency response. They have refined measures to fairly and accurately assess property values and to closely tie land use and planning to water resources. County employees are innovative and efficient.

For the future, the County is moving forward on developing broadband technology to enhance services and provide opportunities for all County residents. Broadband communications will eliminate the technology gap between rural and urban communities and improve educational opportunities and access to health care. We’ve already achieved long-lasting successes in several areas, especially in developing applications for education and healthcare.

The County also is committed to desalination as a proven way of providing critically needed water supplies and easing demand on the Rio Grande Basin. The County’s first two deep-aquifer wells in the Rio Puerco Valley have identified a substantial supply of brackish water that, once purified, will provide the resources necessary to sustain our current population and future growth.

Much like price tags at the corner gas station, property tax rates are one bottom-line measurement. In that regard, the County portion of tax bills has been very stable. While the County must collect taxes imposed by the State, cities, and other entities—and then transfer those funds directly to the other taxing authorities—the Commission has not increased the County’s property tax mil rate since 1995.

Instead of relying on tax increases to pay for increased and improved services, much of our success stems from partnerships we’ve formed with private enterprise and other governmental bodies. For the future, we will continue to seek new partners and alternative methods of funding County government.

Another key priority is developing transportation alternatives and relieving the nightmarish traffic congestion we all confront, especially in southern Sandoval County.

The Railrunner light rail system that the County helped fund in 2005 has become an attractive alternative for many commuters. To help residents travel economically and efficiently within the County, the Sandoval Easy Express, or SEE, was launched in May 2007 with fixed-route bus service along the Jemez and I-25 corridors. SEE already has attracted more than ten thousand riders and service will be extended to the Cuba area in a matter of weeks.

The County is continuing work on the Northwest Loop west of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque as a key to easing traffic congestion in the metropolitan area. The road will become a major transportation and economic development corridor connecting I-40 and I-25 via US 550.

And, to stimulate job growth, the County’s El Zócalo business development complex just recently opened in Bernalillo and will help spark business opportunities and job creation, especially in rural areas.

The County’s tourism and economic development functions moved into El Zócalo’s historic convent this fall. El Zócalo’s special event center just recently opened and already has become a popular meeting location for business groups and individuals. Extensive restoration of the site’s largest structure, the two-story Salazar Building, was completed just weeks ago and it, too, is now available to begin housing businesses that will spur job growth in 2008 and beyond.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Leonard can be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, PO Box 40, Bernalillo, NM 87004.

NM credit cardholders may be eligible for refunds

Attorney General Gary King’s office today confirmed a $336 million settlement, pending final federal court approval, in a lawsuit against several major credit card companies and their member banks. The antitrust lawsuit is about the price cardholders of Visa, MasterCard, or Diners Club-branded payment cards were charged to make transactions in a foreign currency, or with a foreign merchant.

In the matter, In re Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1409), the plaintiffs challenged how the prices were set and disclosed, claiming the defendants conspired to set and conceal fees and inflated their base exchange rates before applying these fees.

A person (or company) is eligible to participate in the settlement if they used a Visa, MasterCard and/or Diners Club credit, charge and or debit/ATM card to make a foreign transaction, including purchases and ATM withdrawals, from February 1, 1996 to November 8, 2006.

Eligible cardholders may elect to submit one of three refund options:

1) Easy Refund of $25
2) Total Estimation Refund
3) Annual Estimation Refund

All claim forms may be submitted online at www.ccfsettlement.com or by mail at: U.S. District Court Settlement Administrator, PO Box 290, Philadelphia, PA 19105-0290. Information is also available from the claims administrator’s toll-free number, 1-800-945-9890. This information will also be available on the Attorney General’s office website at http://nmag.gov/.

 

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