Rio Rancho Governing Body members have moved forward on the sale of voter-approved general obligation bonds and authorized a loan to help build and equip the second building at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center and the UNM Health Sciences Center Rio Rancho campus.

Sandoval Regional Medical Center has been seeing more patients. (File photo)

Both decisions came at their meeting Wednesday night at City Hall, with Mayor Gregg Hull and three city councilors present, two councilors participating by phone to maintain social distancing and one, Jeremy Lenentine, excused.

Under the general obligation bond ordinance, which must pass a second reading to go forward, the city would be able to sell up to $14.6 million in bonds: $10.8 million to fund road improvements and $3.8 million for public safety vehicles, equipment and facility improvements, said Financial Services Director Carole Jaramillo.

In March, voters approved both the road and public-safety bonds, which will be repaid with property taxes and replace expiring bonds to avoid raising the tax rate.

“We are grateful for the voters for approving these bonds so that we can continue the great progress that we’ve been making,” Hull said.

Jaramillo said the ordinance sets parameters including maximum interest rate and time to maturity.

It allows three types of sales to let city officials choose the best interest rate and yield possible, Hull said.

He hoped road work funded by the 2020 bond would start in May or June. He said the final project for the road bond approved in 2018, work on Country Club Drive, is wrapping up now, about three weeks early.

The governing body unanimously approved the first reading.

Members also unanimously approved the second and final reading of the loan ordinance for the UNM Center for Orthopaedic Excellence.

The building is planned to be next to SRMC but is considered part of Rio Rancho’s Health Sciences Center campus. It has educational and clinical components.

The New Mexico Finance Authority authorized a maximum loan amount of $15.15 million, $150,000 more than city staff initially expected. The city Higher Education Facilities Gross Receipts Tax revenue will repay the loan.

Jaramillo said the project was set to go before the state Board of Finance on April 21 and then the work could move forward as soon as the loan closed.

In other business, governing body members:

• Approved a resolution supporting location of a new Veterans Affairs National Cemetery on a parcel of land controlled by the State Land Office in northwest Rio Rancho.

• Extended the city’s health-care emergency declaration through May 18.

• Conducted a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant annual plan, which involves splitting almost $590,000 among a drainage project on Tula Drive, Haven House domestic violence shelter services, St. Felix Pantry homelessness prevention, Sandoval County Permanent Supportive Housing, LifeROOTS Inc. disability services salary support and planning and administration costs.

• Moved $100,000 budgeted for a master plan update and new comprehensive plan for City Center to replace a 25-year-old leaky portion of the roof at Star Heights Recreation Center. Acting City Manager Peter Wells said $50,000 from next fiscal year’s budget would be reserved for the comprehensive plan.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale of city property on Abrazo Road to developer Pierre Amestoy for the appraised price of $30,000. Staff deemed the lot unnecessary for the city, but Amestoy wants to include it in a future housing development, said Public Works Director BJ Gottlieb.