Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 
Up Front

Library opening

It was the children that were given the honor of cutting the ribbon at the grand opening for the Placitas Community Library. Excitement and giggles helped usher local residents into the new building located on highway 165 in Placitas.

Library opening

Martha Leibert with Kendra Matteucci and Catherine Harris enjoys the grand opening. “Coming from a librarian,”says Leibert, “this is a wonderful facility and will serve the community for over 100 years.”

 Library opening

Carly and Jackson Wall enoying books and festivities on opening day.

Library opening

The design of the new library is very inviting. Rows of books are flanked with computers for public use.

Open for business

It took a little over six and a half years for the dreams of a few people to materialize into a true community vision. On May 22 the Placitas Community Library officially opened its doors to the public. Anne Grey Frost, Placitas Library Co-Director, said “the turnout was amazing and the library is everything we hoped it would be and more.”

After teary “thank you’s” and summer program reminders, excited patrons stepped across the threshold and into the new library. The completed Phase One of the new building is everything one would expect of the clean and contemporary, “green” design of the library. The main room filled with all of the books is easy to navigate up and down the multiple isles. Natural light illuminates the reader’s shelf searching and children have a wonderfuly whimscial rug upon which to read and participate in activities. “The literary seeds have been planted in this community for over 100 years. Placitas is and has been home to many great scholars,” said Placiteño, Tony Lucero.

News from the Placitas Library:

Picture Placitas opened as the first exhibit in the gallery space in the Collin Meeting Room. This exhibit is a celebration of Placitas in words and images by Placiteños. The show is stunning and contains over 170, 8x10 images from 80 residents. The passion for the beautiful setting of Placitas is vividly apparent. The images are available for $35 each or 3 for $100. All proceeds benefit the new Library. Please stop by and let this show draw you in. Over 60 of the images sold at the Grand Opening and many amazing images remain. The full exhibit will remain on display through June 5. After that date people may claim the images they have purchased. If you find that the one(s) you want to buy are already sold, please leave them your name and number. The Library staff will contact the photographer to see if they are willing to provide additional prints and they will get back to you.

Now that the new Placitas Community Library is officially dedicated and open to serve Placitas residents and others in Sandoval County. A huge thank you to Pam Buethe, Connie Goodwin, Susan Fullas and all the Friends of the Library who put together such a fabulous celebration. The Placitas children cut the ribbon and led us all into our beautiful new space. If you have not yet visited please stop by soon! For the time being the hours are to remain the same as in the old building; Tuesday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.. The Library staff plan to add more hours as soon as they have trained volunteers to cover new times. If you would like to volunteer and your preference is for additional open hours please contact the staff. Presently, they are considering Sunday afternoons.

Currently, the Library’s native landscaping project has begun. Many of the plants are beginning to bloom. Please walk around and enjoy both what has been planted and the naturally occurring wildflowers which are so prolific this season. 

The Library fundraising for both plant identification signs and a water harvesting system.

Here’s what happening in June at the Placitas Community Library:

  • June 1-5 — PICTURE PLACITAS Exhibit and sale
  • June 2, 16, 30 (Wednesdays) — 2pm: Storytime Yoga for ages 4-8 (parents are encouraged to join their children). Please sign up in advance for this free class.
  • June 3,10,17,24 (Thursdays ) — 10-11:30: Children’s summer Reading Program
  • June 5 (Saturday) — 1-4pm: Family Game Afternoon—all ages are welcome
  • June 8 (Tuesday) — 3pm: Bilingual Story hour
  • June 15 (Tuesday) — 3pm: Kid’s Book Club
  • June 19 (Saturday) — Reading to the Dog; Spencer the Therapy Dog returns
  • Adult Book Groups — call the Help Desk, 867-3355, for dates, times and titles being read.
  • Adult Summer Reading Program — stop by and join the over one hundred folks who have signed up, then let us know how many books you read. Reading suggestions and other information is available when you sign up.

As a reminder, the Placitas Library Hours are as follows:

Tuesdays: 10 a.m.-7p.m.,
Wednesday, Thursdays, Saturdays: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.


Word of mouth beats down proposed tax hike

— L.A. Williams, Signpost
Hundreds of Placitas residents swarmed the Bernalillo High School Gym Annex in May when the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD) asked residents of southeastern Sandoval County to approve a 1/4 mill levy property tax hike. It would have added $25 to the annual tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $300,000, or taxable value of $100,000. The voters answered with a resounding “no.”

On voting day a number of Placitans noticed “vote here” signage which upon further inspection did not, as they thought, deal with the upcoming primary election, but rather the property tax increase. What began as a tranquil voting day turned stormy in a matter of hours as area residents notified hundreds of friends, family and neighbors to get out and vote it down.

Voters said they were furious that there was almost no information about the proposed tax hike and minimal effort to publicize the election. As the crowd amassed and the waiting line wrapped outside the building, many voiced their anger calling it a “secret” and “sneaky” election.

Residents voted against the tax increase by 503 votes to 49. After last year’s new taxes to raise money for hospital construction in Rio Rancho and flood control projects, residents were weary to support additional increases, specifically from an agency they felt did very little in managing to inform the public about the vote or the agency’s purpose.

Will Ouellette, CSWCD Chairman, said the organization followed state law in publicizing the election by running a legal notice in March in the Albuquerque Journal, but that the organization's budget was too tight to pay for additional notices for the May 4 election.

Their goal was to raise about $100,000 through the property tax increase, which could have helped bring in up to $1 million in matching grant money. Currently, CSWCD depends primarily on state funding, which has been reduced in recent years, and grants, which require matching funds. Not getting the property tax revenue will reduce the amount of projects the organization can tackle.

The CSWCD is mainly a volunteer-run group that works with farmers, ranchers, school groups and communities to protect water quality, reduce erosion and teach sustainable agricultural. Current projects include removing water-hogging non-native plants from waterways between Socorro and Taos, providing funding and support for a water harvesting area and outdoor learning habitat at Placitas Elementary school, and providing funding for the Placitas Recycling Center.

Although the CSWCD is involved with quality projects beneficial to the region, they appear to have misjudged the sensitive issue of another tax increase in the district, especially when it is perceived as a furtive operation. Had residents felt that all the cards were on the table, whose to say, there could well have been a different outcome.


Town holds special session regarding budget crisis

The Bernalillo Town Council approved an interim municipal budget with reductions in pay and furlough days during a special session meeting held in May.

Mayor Jack Torres and the Town Council approved the interim 2011 fiscal year budget to be submitted to the State of New Mexico by June 1st. The approved budget includes a 3% reduction in pay for all employees and twelve furlough days for the year, effective July 1, 2010. Over all, the operating budget was decreased by 14.7%. The total budget increased by .2% from Fiscal Year 2010 in order to account for debt payments.

There will be no new fire chief, police chief, public works director, or town administrator appointed during the hiring freeze. The duties inherent in these positions will be assumed by interim directors, directors, staff, and the Mayor himself.

Many town employees were in attendance at the special session, fearing that their jobs would be eliminated. Thanks to the many hard hours of work put in by Acting Treasurer Juan Torres, Town Clerk Ida Fierro, and Community Development Director Maria Rinaldi along with Mayor Torres, no jobs were lost. 

Councilor Santiago Montoya proclaimed that speaking only for himself, he was willing to do his part and would forgo compensation for his position as Trustee. After this generous offer the other two members of the previous Council added that they would join Councilor Montoya donating their wages to the general fund. 

Since taking office in early March, Mayor Torres has focused on the fiscal position of the Town and on the preparation of this budget. “It has been a daunting task”, he said after meeting with Department Heads and Division Directors to explain the cuts. “I came into office having heard that the Town was fiscally sound and that revenues were at an all time high. Unfortunately, that was not completely true and now we must make an unbudgeted debt service payment of $1,636,569.00 on June 1st.”

While relatively recent commercial development, including Wal-Mart, has increased revenue by 5.06% much of the gross receipts tax have been pledged for bond issue payments creating a debt service of 14.8% of the overall budget, a debt service that was not budgeted for in previous years. Other factors that necessitated the reductions in the personnel budget include the apparent use of federals funds earmarked for debt service being spent in the General Fund for operating expenses. Permit fee accounts established by ordinance were also closed and the revenue used for operating. Significant uncollected utility revenue on delinquent water and sewer accounts is also a contributing factor to the Town’s current financial situation, as are a number of minimum fee accounts resulting from broken and unreadable meters. Additionally, a billing increase due to a Waste Management trash collection hike was never passed along to customers resulting in the Town subsidizing the cost.

According to Mayor Torres, the Town is now concentrating on cutting operating expenses, collecting delinquent utility payments, and restructuring the Town’s debt service. “The reality of our fiscal situation cannot be ignored. I appreciate the hard work and cooperation of staff and our Town Council to deal with this extremely challenging situation. Working together we have developed a lean budget that will allow us to continue to serve our citizens. This budget will also bring the Town back to living within our means.”


District 22 House Seat up for election

June 1 primary election information

During the Primary Election to be held on June 1, Sandoval County voters will select candidates for several local offices. Current District 22 House Representative Kathy McCoy will not seek re-election and in turn will open up the position for either Republican Dan Salzwedel or Republican Jim Smith. The Signpost presented these two candidates with the same three questions and their answers are as follows:

Signpost:

  1. What is your educational/professional background?
  2. What is your approach to politics and communicating with the communities you represent?
  3. Are you familiar with the Eastern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA) and would you be willing to sponsor an amendment to the bill, which increased local property taxes far beyond the estimate provided to voters?

Dan Salzwedel:

  1. First my website describes question # 1 in detail (dan4nm.com). I received both a bachelors and masters from the Univ. of Wisc. Milwaukee – in Education (majoring in Phy. Educ, History and minoring in English), while my masters was in Educational Administration. I accomplished my PHD from the Univ. of New Mexico in 1986. I’ve taught in each of the disciplines mentioned in Wisconsin, then in New Mexico at Des Moines, and eventually became the principal there as well. I accepted a position as Supt. Of Schools in Lake Arthur, NM, followed by a one year stint at the UNM (serving residency as required at that time for the doctorate), teaching and finishing course work. I was then appointed a Director for the NMAA (regulatory body for athletics and non-athletic activities for the entire state) and served that organization for over 23 years before retiring. I now am an adjunct professor at Highlands University in RR, a role I’ve been in since 04.
  2. I have the time, passion and will to serve the district in a manner that engages all populations within District #22. I have a long history of service, helping others, community activities, etc., and the ambition required to make a difference. I believe Character to be the centerpiece of this campaign and the only real solution to the problems of entitlement and corruption – we need to vet people properly at the front end. I intend to be accessible, involved and responsive. This is the District’s seat and my approach is that I’ll be honored to hold the keys as its representative if I’m elected.
  3. I would author or support any legislation that reduces taxes in numerous areas, not just this particular case. I’m also supporting/authoring a bill that combines many of the taxing authorities elections into a bi-annual process (with the major elections only), plus requiring more detailed explanations as to the true cost, as well as advertising each more comprehensively. Depending on the county, we have from 5 to 18 different authorities that can tax you and have very little fanfare or support during the balloting process but raise taxes significantly, i.e. schools, city, county, hospital, railrunner, etc.

Dan Salzwedel can be reached at (505) 286-1601 or (505) 321-2273.

Jim Smith:

  1. I have a B.S. Degree in Wildlife Management and a B.A. in Secondary Science Education. I worked for nine years in petroleum engineering for the oil & gas industry, five years in soils engineering, and for the last 15 years as a secondary science teacher. Eight of those years were at Moriarty High School and I currently teach Physics and Chemistry at East Mountain High School, a model college prep public charter school.
  2. I am a conservative Christian who grew tired of an educational system that does not perform and an economy that is shrinking. People who know my eagerness to improve our communities have asked me to run for State Representative for District 22 to take my community involvement to a state level. Because I have been so involved for many years, I already have many, many personal relationships with people throughout the district. However, I realize that the residents of the Placitas area frequently feel under-represented and I will change that. I am available 24/7, either through cell phone or email. In addition, I will hold frequent town hall meetings that will give people the opportunity to provide their voice to the state legislature.
  3. I have been attending ESCAFCA meetings for several months, having been invited by several concerned citizens. I've met several of the directors of the board, as well as Placitas residents. I believe my engineering background gives me a unique perspective about what has been transpiring at these meetings. I would sponsor a bill to eliminate any duplication of effort by the various flood control authorities, as well as to re-define the scope of authority of ESCAFCA. I believe this would lead to lower taxes for the citizens of Sandoval County, a position I would consistently strive for.

Jim Smith can be reached at (505) 934-1075

Additional Local Offices in the Primary:

House of Representative District 44, the choices are Democrat Joel A. Davis of Albuquerque and Republican Jane E. Powdrell-Culbert of Corrales.

House of Representative District 60, Democrat Jack E. Thomas and Republican Tonia Lynn Harris, both of Rio Rancho.  

County Commission District 1, Democrat Orlando J. Lucero of Bernalillo, Republican Charles D. Mellon of Placitas and Republican Patricia A. Morlen of Algondones.

County Commission District 3, Democrat Larry Edward Naranjo of Rio Rancho and Republicans Donald G. Chapman and Todd Ray Hawthorne both of Rio Rancho.  

Magistrate Judge Division I, Democrats Richard L. Zanotti and Dixie L.Trebbe of Rio Rancho.

Magistrate Judge Division II Democrat F. Kenneth Eichwald of Cuba.

Magistrate Judge Division III, Democrat Delilah M. Montano-Baca of Pena Blanca.  

In the race for Assessor’s office, the candidates are Democrats Ronnie A. Sisneros and William M. Mast of Bernalillo and Republicans Pete David Salazar of Placitas and Tom Garcia of Rio Rancho.  

For Sheriff there are two Democrats, Timothy T. Lucero of Algodones and Andrew M. Ortiz of Rio Rancho, and three republicans, Leonard Armijo and Gregory Paul Marcantel of Bernalillo and Douglas C. Wood of Rio Rancho.  

Probate Judge, the Democrat candidates are Charles J. Aguilar of Bernalillo and Stevan Jay Schoen of Placitas; the Republican candidate is Mary O. Kwapich of Placitas.  

Primary elections are an important phase in the voting process because they give people the ability to decide who the best candidate is. Unfortunately, many people skip the primary election and only vote in the general election, many of them later complaining that their party’s candidate is not the one they would have chosen. People who take their vote seriously need to make their wishes known.

Voter registration closes 28 days prior to the election. You may register in person at the Office of the County Clerk or at the Secretary of State’s Office For more information, contact the Bureau of Elections, Office of the Secretary of State at: (505) 827-3600 or (800) 477-3632.

 

     

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