The Rio Rancho Governing Body has activated the charter review committee, which could meet as early as this week.
At their virtual meeting Thursday night, governing body members unanimously voted to active the committee, which consists of:
• Mayor Gregg Hull;
• District 1 resident Bob Cote;
• District 2 resident Bea Cruz;
• District 3 City Councilor Bob Tyler;
• District 4 resident Howard Balmer;
• District 5 resident Sarah Baiett; and
• District 6 City Councilor Dan Stoddard.
The charter is similar to a constitution and must be reviewed every 10 years.
Deputy City Manager Steve Ruger said he hoped to hold the first committee meeting virtually at 6 p.m. Thursday, if all members were available. Committee meetings are open to the public.
District 4 resident John Pearse took issue with Cote being a former Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission member and with Balmer being a former Rio Rancho city councilor and current agent for developers because he said their experience in local government didn’t allow for “unsullied citizen involvement.”
“Maintain the integrity of our city’s charter and put citizens first,” he said, asking governing body members to vote against the activation resolution.
Several governing body members and city staff members have previously said they want residents involved in the review process, and they didn’t think the mayor and two city councilors being on the committee would hinder resident participation. None of them commented further Thursday.
According to the activation resolution, the committee must propose charter amendments to the governing body by June 9.
The governing body then votes on whether to put any amendments on the ballot for the next city election in March 2022. A majority of city voters must approve changes for them to be made.
In other business, governing body members:
• Voted to buy almost 83 acre-feet of water rights for $15,000 per acre-foot to continue compliance with the terms of the city’s water permit from the State of New Mexico. Utilities Director Jim Chiasson said the total cost would be a little more than $1.2 million, paid for via loan proceeds and the water rights acquisition fee already on water bills. Councilor Paul Wymer said the price was very good.
An acre-foot of water is almost 326,000 gallons.
• Approved using $310,000 of previously un-earmarked money from the Utilities Operations and Maintenance Fund to buy 750 new automatic-read water meters to replace old manually read meters.
Chiasson said the city had more new homes and businesses than expected this fiscal year, and so needed more meters to accommodate new buildings and replace outdated meters.
• Passed the city’s 10th health care emergency declaration, which runs through May 28. The declaration doesn’t affect state restrictions, but makes the city eligible for state and federal reimbursements, and allows for faster decision-making in certain circumstances.