Sandoval County Administration Building

BERNALILLO — Sandoval County Commission OK’d a series of proposed projects using American Recovery Plan Act money during Thursday’s meeting, but had to arrange for future discussions on one project at a historical building.
The commissioners approved seven items in the first tranche of such projects, including the use of $5 million for the first phase of a public safety complex. Other projects include $5.26 million toward the first phase of a broadband project to help under-served parts of the county, plus $350,000 for a Health Commons building generator to address things like keeping COVID-19 vaccines at adequate temperatures.
However, the commission voted 4-1 against using $1 million for a larger ventilation unit to improve air flow at historical El Zócalo Plaza Event Center in Bernalillo. Commissioner Katherine Bruch cast the lone “yes” vote.
Commissioner Michael Meek told the Observer it came down to simple math: adding an extra $1 million on top of already paying $2 million for the property itself.
“You have to look at it as a business dealing,” Meek said.
County grant writer Nichole Britt presented the litany of proposed projects to the board. She told the Observer the discussions about El Zócalo are “absolutely not over,” adding that it simply was moved to the second tranche of ARPA money the county will get next year.
“I think we were realistic that we might get pushed back on a couple items,” she said.
Of the $28.6 million in combined funds spanning this year and next year, half of that money will come in that second tranche next March.
When it comes to matters like El Zócalo’s HVAC system, Britt said the two-tranche setup provides flexibility so such items can be revisited later.
Meek said he’s not against addressing the HVAC system altogether; rather he’s against addressing it with the first tranche of funding.
“That’s what this is about. The second group of money, it could fit perfectly well there,” he said.
He said the committee overseeing the second tranche could plan ahead for it.
“We’ll go back. We’ll visit it again,” Meek said.