Rio Rancho voters will have three city general obligation bond questions – for public safety, roads and quality of life — to consider in March.
During their meeting Thursday evening at City Hall, Rio Rancho Governing Body members voted unanimously to put all three questions on the ballot. Voters will be able to decide on each on separately.
General obligation bonds are government debt repaid with property taxes.
According to city documents, if voters approve all three bonds in March, property tax rates will stay the same and the bonds will raise a total of $15.25 million. If all three fail, property tax rates will decrease by $44 per $100,000 of a home’s taxable value each year.
“We’ve had an expansion in the property tax base,” said City Manager Matt Geisel.
That situation, plus past bonds being paid off, allows the city to go out for more bonds without raising the property tax rate, he said.
The proposed General Obligation Road Bond would generate $10.6 million, about $10.3 of which would go directly to roads, with the rest paying for the cost of bond issuance and setting aside 1 percent of proceeds for city public art in compliance with city and state laws. If it passes, the proposed projects are reconstruction of:
- Enchanted Hills Boulevard from NM 528 to Paseo del Volcan;
- Northern Boulevard from NM 528 to Rockaway Boulevard;
- 19th Avenue from NM 528 to Golf Course Road;
- Quantum Road from NM 528 to Northern; and
- Spring Drive from Unser Boulevard to Mesa Road.
Water and sewer lines would be replaced under those roads at the same time, paid for by a little more than $5.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, according to the city.
If the Public Safety General Obligation Bond passes, it would provide $3.6 million with almost $3.5 million left for projects after issuance costs and 1 percent for the arts. Proposed uses are:
- Replace about 20 Rio Rancho Police vehicles, or as many as possible for $1.02 million;
- Replace RRPD crime scene vehicles, having one for crash investigations and one for criminal investigations;
- Buy a Bearcat, an armored rescue vehicle with ballistic shielding to provide an “enhanced safety/protection option for officers and the public”;
- Replace the RRPD equipment vehicle, used to transport and store equipment for critical incidents;
- Remodel and expand the public bathrooms at the police station;
- Replace the camera surveillance system at the police station;
- Replace two Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue engines, one 2005 model with more than 134,000 miles on it and one 2006 vehicle with more than 174,000 miles;
- Replace two ambulances, one from 2007 with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer and a 2013 model with more than 129,000 miles; and
- Replace a 2003 brush truck, used to fight wildland fires.
This is the first time the city has put a quality of life bond on the ballot.
“We have the opportunity to put in what I call the third leg of the stool for municipal services,” Mayor Gregg Hull said of the bond.
If voters approve the Quality of Life General Obligation Bond, it would raise $1.04 million, with just more than $1 million left for projects after costs of issuance and the arts allocation. Proposed projects are:
- Replacing playground equipment, improving Americans with Disabilities Act access and adding ADA surfacing, benches and tables at Enchanted Hills Park;
- Replacing playground equipment and adding ADA features, better surfacing and improved access routes at Veja Baja Park;
- Replacing playground equipment and surfacing, and adding ADA benches and tables at Rio Vista Park;
- Buying books, movies, music, periodicals and digital services for Rio Rancho libraries; and
- Buying computers, mobile hotspots and furniture for city libraries.
“This bond and the opportunity that we’re giving to the voters is the opportunity for them to be able to be the city that can and that will,” said Councilor Karissa Culbreath, adding that she was excited for all three bonds to go on the ballot.
In another matter, the governing body unanimously voted for a new redistricting plan that would keep the Cabezon subdivision, as well as most other neighborhoods, in the same district and make as few changes to districts as possible. The new plan is designated E1.
To approve the plan, governing body members must vote on it again, which is scheduled to happen at their Nov. 10 meeting.