Sandoval County Commission Chairman Dave Heil and Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull co-chaired the first meeting between the county and city during a work session last week at City Hall.
The meeting, catalyzed by an invitation from new Rio Rancho City Manager David Campbell, allowed city and county officials to discuss legislative priorities and possible initiatives both entities might work on together in the future.
“The opportunity to go to the next legislative session with arms locked with Sandoval County and Rio Rancho will be very beneficial this year,” Campbell said.
An early discussion highlighted the city’s desire to extend senior services.
“We have a plan in place to build Rio Rancho’s second senior center right here in city center in collaboration with UNM (University of New Mexico) hospital,” Hull said. “This stems as a plan from funds that were approved by a 2017 bond that passed.”
From the bond, the City of Rio Rancho received $3.4 million to go toward phase 1 of the senior center, according to Deputy City Manager Peter Wells. The full project will cost an estimated $12 million.
“We see this as a great partnership with the county,” Hull said.
Campbell told the governmental throng that the city was working on a leasing agreement, which included working out more details with UNM and its Sandoval Regional Medical Center.
“I believe we are looking at a possible ground-breaking in 2020,” Campbell said.
Councilor Dave Bency said he has received many calls from seniors complaining about the long lines at Meadowlark Senior Center.
“People can’t even register over there anymore because the need is so critical,” he said.
Staffing and operational costs of a new senior facility were Bency’s main concern.
“We can build it, they will come, but we can’t staff it,” he said.
Commissioner Jay Block said the state’s third-largest city has only one senior center, which is not a functional situation.
“It seems that we are already late to need for our senior citizens,” he said.
Block said the county is light on funds, which puts it behind on helping with things like a new senior center and public safety.
“Where do you see the growth in Rio Rancho in the next five years so we can expand our tax base so we can expand some of these services?” he asked.
Hull replied that the city is involved with a lot of economic development activities to help fund some of those needs.
“Right now we have a nice little boom going on in the housing market,” Hull said. “When more people come into the city and county, obviously that grows that base where more people can share the load.”
Besides senior services, other discussion topics included:
• Paseo del Volcan,
• Brick-and-mortar projects,
• Public safety,
• Road maintenance, and
• 2020 joint legislative priorities.