Rio Rancho water and sewer service is continuing under the existing city contractor for almost $8.3 million a year, with a governing body vote Thursday night.
During their meeting at City Hall, Rio Rancho Governing Body members voted unanimously, with Councilor Jeremy Lenentine absent, to approve a new contract with Operations Management International Inc., the city’s water and wastewater utility operator. The contract lasts five years with an option to renew for another five.
The city has hired a contractor to operate the utility for 30 years, with OMI holding the contract for the last 20 years.
“OMI’s done a really remarkable job over time in dealing with the changes that come with changing technology,” said Councilor Jim Owen, citing the company’s handling of the city’s recycled water re-injection facility and a past federal mandate decreasing the levels of naturally occurring arsenic allowed in drinking water.
OMI was one of two companies to submit proposals, which city staff members scored and ranked.
Under the contract, OMI provides personnel and labor for the yearly fee, while the city pays separately for materials, electricity, office equipment and so forth needed to operate the water and wastewater system and make repairs.
The money comes from monthly rates charged to system users.
“The proposed contract contains the service level the city utilities’ customers currently experience,” according to city information. “OMI provides continuity for operations and management of the water and wastewater utilities.”
According to city information, annual price increases can’t be more than 2.5 percent or less than 1 percent except in extreme circumstances and must be based on the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Cost Index. If extreme circumstances arise, the city and OMI will negotiate the increase.
Under the new contract, OMI will any new half-ton or three-quarter-ton pickups its employees need to serve Rio Rancho, and pay for the insurance, fuel and maintenance, which Utilities Director Jim Chiasson said was a large item.
“This will take a lot of pressure off our fleet maintenance folks under Director (of Public Works B.J.) Gottlieb,” he said.
The city must pay for the purchase and maintenance of all other necessary vehicles, including heavy equipment and 1- and 2-ton trucks under the contract. OMI must provide the insurance for those city-owned large vehicles.
In the first year of the contract, OMI is required to add new services, with a total estimated value of just more than $215,000. According to the city, the services are:
• A computer algorithm that identifies and prioritizes water main line replacements needed;
• Satellite-based leak detection;
• A program that manages and reports date to regulatory agencies;
• A dashboard that allows the review of water, wastewater and recycled water systems in real time; and
• A performance benchmarking program for water utilities.
Other business before the city
In other matters, governing body members:
• Approved the final budget for this fiscal year, adjusting for such things as account end balances, updated projections and critical needs that came up since approval of the preliminary budget before the end of last fiscal year. According to the city, the final budget includes $71.7 million in revenue, $66.8 million in expenditures and an ending balance in the general fund of $24.4 million.
• Approved a beer and wine license for Poké Serrano restaurant, to open at 3755 Southern Blvd.
• Approved a liquor license and waiver for The Hopper restaurant, to open at 4500 Arrowhead Ridge Drive, Suite D.
• Approved 10 voting convenience centers for Election Day voting in the March 1, 2022, municipal election.
• Changed the land-use zoning of 3 acres along Northern Boulevard east of Broadmoor Boulevard to allow construction of a facility with warehouse and office space.
• Changed the land-use zoning of five lots on Inca Road, mostly between Excalibur and Galahad streets, to “mixed-use residential” zoning, which allows high-density housing.
• Changed the land-use zoning of about 24 acres just west of Broadmoor between Marksburg and Hedingham avenues to R-2 zoning, which is the second-lowest-density classification of single-family zoning.
• Changed the land-use zoning of 2.7 acres at the west end of King Boulevard in Northern Meadows from retail to mixed-used residential for $200,000 single-family homes.
• Denied a request to change transitional zoning to medium-density single-family residential use on Columbine Road, just outside the Mountain Hawk subdivision.
• Authorized refinancing of a water-rights acquisition loan to save about $1.1 million.