Line—Balancing the budget
—DON LEONARD, SANDOVAL COUNTY
With a few exceptions, planning for future expenses
and revenues of such a rapidly growing area as Sandoval County is
similar to establishing a “livable” budget for a family
The County’s extensive services and programs
that benefit growing numbers of residents are more complex, and
the numbers, by necessity, contain more zeros than most of us will
ever confront in our personal lives. Satisfying the obligation to
prudently and wisely allocate taxpayer dollars—while improving
and enhancing services for residents—is another aspect that
greatly magnifies the importance of establishing a balanced County
Yet, the basic budgeting process for a household
or business also applies to Sandoval County government, which provides
a wide range of services to a diverse population—all with
differing needs and expectations. You must first identify anticipated
revenues and then allocate those dollars for future needs.
In the County’s budget process, the Commission
and staff work hard for efficient, long-term solutions and allocate
dollars at sufficient levels to meet needs—both now and in
The Commission recently gave preliminary approval
of a $96.39 million budget for the County’s fiscal year that
begins July 1. In terms of total dollars, the new budget reflects
a twenty-six percent decrease over the prior year. Yet, without
a one-time payment of $56.17 million for bond refinancing last year,
the new budget actually reflects an increase of $22 million or about
On the revenue side, about $19 million, or less
than twenty cents of each dollar budgeted, will be received from
property taxes. Most of the County’s revenues, about $77 million
or eighty-one percent, come from a variety of sources ranging from
grants, legislative allocations, and bond revenues to landfill fees
and gross receipts tax.
The bulk of the budget is directly targeted
to improve services and quality of life for County residents—without
increasing tax rates.
More than $25.8 million, or about twenty-seven
percent of the total budget, is allocated for community programs.
Funding for programs directly benefiting residents is being increased
by more than thirty-one percent, or $6.14 million over the prior
year, to improve health, senior and DWI programs, and implement
the County’s newly-launched transit system.
An additional $2 million, or almost twelve
percent more, is being added to public safety operations so that
the Sheriff, fire, and emergency services and the detention center
can continue responding effectively to the needs of growing numbers
of residents. To improve County roads and the landfill, an additional
$5.6 million, or thirty-nine percent more, is being added to the
Public Works functions.
Both public safety functions and Public Works
each will receive more than twenty percent of the total budget.
About nine percent of the budget, or $8.9 million,
is budgeted to pay for basic aspects of government, such as elections,
tax assessing and collections, recording and filings, computers,
utilities, maintenance, and insurance.
The balance of the budget is allocated for bond
debt and cash reserves as required by the State.
Sandoval County’s preparations for the
future are readily evident in a budget that allocates increased
funds for the services and programs benefiting residents without
increasing tax rates. For the years ahead, the Commission and staff
must continue planning with the very best data and tools available,
while also striving for partnerships and long-term solutions that
provide the wisest use of taxpayer dollars.
Questions or comments for Commissioner Leonard
can be mailed to him C/O Sandoval County Administrative Offices,
PO Box 40, Bernalillo, 87004.
T or C area is boom town,
exploding with new plans
“Elephant Butte Lake has always been one
of the biggest draws to Sierra County,” said State Parks Director
Dave Simon. “The state park is better than ever and the new
developments will both complement the existing recreation economy
and become attractions in their own right.”
“Economic opportunities are exploding
in Sierra County, and we expect more growth in the next couple of
years with the implementation of the spaceport, golf course, and
possibility of a racetrack,” said Walter C. Armijo, Vice Chair
of the Sierra County Commission. “These improvements will
have a huge economic impact for the County.”
Along with world-class fishing, boating, and
other recreational opportunities at Elephant Butte Lake State Park,
Sierra County will also soon be home to the following proposed and
• Turtleback Mountain Resort and Sierra
Del Rio Golf Course—featuring an eighteen-hole championship
golf course and a six-neighborhood development;
• Spaceport America—The Southwest
Regional Spaceport, located thirty miles south of T or C at Upham,
will be a major departure site for commercial space launches and
is expected to positively impact Sierra, Doña Ana and Otero
counties. Already, $200 million has been allocated for construction
of Spaceport America;
• NASCAR-style track—Hot Springs
Motorplex (a group of Florida investors) has proposed a NASCAR-style
racetrack on an eight-thousand-acre tract of land near the T or
C Municipal Airport.
World’s richest tombstone
race run in Fort Sumner
The world’s richest tombstone race, The
Billy the Kid Tombstone Race, with more than $4,000 in cash prizes
was held on June 9, at the Fort Sumner High School Football Field.
The Tombstone Race drew more than nine hundred
people from all over New Mexico as well as Utah, Texas, and Colorado.
It is estimated the economic impact of this one-day event was more
than $250,000 for the local economy. The race has gained national
recognition, with features in the Wall Street Journal, People magazine
and on the Today Show.
The tombstone, which marks Billy the Kid’s
grave at Fort Sumner, has almost as much history as the famous outlaw
himself. The stone has been stolen three times since placement by
an historical society in the 1940s, and once spent twenty-seven
years under a boxcar in Texas following a theft. After its most
recent disappearance, the tombstone’s recovery in California
was shown on national television.
The race is run over a simple, but grueling,
twenty-five-yard course. In the open division, two hurdles of four
and five feet must be scaled while carrying an eighty-pound stone
during two laps of the four-lap race. In the women’s and the
over-age-thirty-five divisions, contestants carry a twenty-pound
stone and women have a step at the five-foot barrier.
Fort Sumner has successfully combined the legends
of the late nineteenth century with the vision of the 21st century.
The legendary outlaw Billy the Kid sought refuge from the long arm
of the law in Old Fort Sumner, only to meet his demise there at
the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett. Today, Western enthusiasts from
around the world flock to the village nestled along the Pecos River
to view the final resting place of the “Kid.”
While many small towns in the area have
disappeared, Fort Sumner has been able to absorb their service needs
and take advantage of its location, climate, and progressive attitude
to plan and prepare infrastructure for growth. Young people and
retirees coming to the area attest to the desirability of lifestyle.
It is said that one reason for Fort Sumner’s staying power
is the tourism activities that are promoted by the Fort Sumner Chamber