The City of Rio Rancho is funding several road projects with almost $1.7 million of unexpected revenue from last fiscal year.
Rio Rancho Governing Body members approved the use of the money at their meeting Wednesday night at City Hall.
When the city has unanticipated revenue left over after the end of a fiscal year, rules specify that 70 percent of that money go to road repair, 20 percent to equipment replacement and 10 percent to information technology.
The allocations for the roadwork portion of the revenue are:
• Right-of-way acquisition to reconstruct and widen Unser Boulevard: $87,500 for matching funds to secure a $1.66 million state grant.
• Reconstruction of Southern Boulevard from Unser to Rainbow Boulevard: $40,000 for matching funds to secure a $760,000 state grant, plus another $273,000 to complete the work. Public Works Director BJ Gottlieb said that money will be combined with $1 million from this fiscal year’s budget and $100,000 from Sandoval County.
• Patching and replacement of sections of Southern from Golf Course Road to Unser: $1.1 million.
• Patching and sealing of cracks on Cabezon Boulevard from Unser to Trail Side Road: $163,000.
If those projects finish under budget, leftover money goes to preventative maintenance on Golf Course.
In another matter, governing body members approved the first reading of stricter rules on reporting municipal-election campaign financing.
City Clerk Rebecca Martinez said the proposed amendments were based on changes to state statute and new court rulings, and meant to give voters information.
“They’re better informed to be able to choose their representation if they know who’s funding the campaign,” she said.
The new regulations require candidates to form campaign committees to make clear who is raising and spending money, she said. Also, all ads must include a disclosure saying who authorized them.
If entities outside a campaign spend $1,000 or more on ads mentioning a specific candidate or ballot question within 60 days of an election but don’t coordinate or consult with the campaign committee, they would need to report the expense under Martinez’s proposed rules. Such a purchase is called an independent expenditure.
Mayor Gregg Hull introduced an amendment that reduced the threshold for reporting independent expenditures to $500. The governing body unanimously approved the change.
Martinez proposed a $2,500 limit on campaign contributions from any individual or entity. Candidates are no longer allowed to keep anonymous donations.
Councilor Jeremy Lenentine said $2,500 was a good amount for a campaign within a city council district, but at-large campaigns, such as for mayor or municipal judge, cost more. Hull said state campaigns have a limit of $5,000.
“Having the flexibility to move that number to a $5,000 number is more reflective of modern campaigns, and especially for the citywide races,” Hull said.
Councilors Jennifer Flor and Marlene Feuer voted against moving the threshold to $1,000, while Lenentine and Councilors Jim Owen, Bob Tyler and Dave Bency voted for it.
Also, Martinez wanted to require anyone who gave $50 or more to a campaign to disclose their occupation, employer and employer’s address, as well as their own name and address. Hull said he had no problem with such donors having to report their occupation, but in many areas, the threshold for reporting employers is $250.
“Sometimes employers don’t want their name associated with any campaign,” he said.
Tyler suggested a $1,000 limit.
“Fifty dollars is drilling it, I think, way down too far,” he said.
Flor wanted to keep the $50 threshold. She said a limit of $1,000 could allow a candidate to solicit donations just under that amount from multiple people in a company that does business with the city, and voters wouldn’t know.
“I don’t think this is transparent enough for me,” she said of the higher limit.
Hull said a $50 limit would make reporting onerous. Flor said candidates could create a fillable digital form to make reporting easy.
Flor, Feuer and Owen voted against raising the threshold, while Lenentine, Bency and Tyler voted for it. Hull cast the tie-breaking vote to make the change.
All of the new rules must pass a second reading to take effect, and governing body members can make further changes.
In other matters, governing body members:
• Approved hiring Gottlieb as Public Works Department director. He had been the acting director.
• Donated land in Northern Meadows to the state Department of Transportation for the extension of Paseo del Volcan.
• Approved a restaurant beer and wine liquor license for Turquoise Desert, at 4405 Jager Drive.