Dave Heil

Building jobs for the future, caring for animals, and protecting the public characterizes Sandoval County’s 2021 Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP). The $7 million funding for PdV is our top priority because it is a critical component to the growth of West Side jobs.

River crossing congestion is a daily struggle for residents and is likely to get worse if we don’t improve the balance of jobs-to-residents on the West Side. The funds in the ICIP are for acquisition and design in Sandoval County, not for the actual construction of the road.

In Sandoval County, there remain approximately 800 half-acre lots and roughly 40 home sites that still need to be acquired. Almost all of the rights-of-way (ROW) from the county line south to I-40 have been acquired. After these acquisitions are complete, federal road grants will be pursued to build the road itself.

It is likely that the I-40 to just north of Double Eagle Airport/Paseo del Norte will be completed first, since most of the ROW has been acquired and jobs are already being created. The new Amazon Distribution Center will provide about 1,000 jobs. Double Eagle Airport has expansion potential, and Quail Ranch, at Paseo del Norte, has tremendous commercial development and job creation potential. Development in these areas will create West Side jobs and improve the jobs-to-residents ratio in order to reduce congestion on the already crowded river bridges. Although these jobs may not all be in Sandoval County, they would be jobs for county residents.

Commissioner Jay Block voiced concerns over the importance of the Sheriff’s Department body armor and uniforms, the public safety communication system, and the Public Safety Complex. Body armor replacement costs the county about $20,000 annually. The communications system in the next year is $307,000 and the Public Safety Complex is $3.1 million.

Now that the state has approved our budget, we know we can fully cover the cost of body armor replacement. We are reviewing other opportunities for funding the communications system and we have identified ways to fund much of the Public Safety Complex. In addition, we will be purchasing two new fire trucks for $900,000 without increasing taxes and we have been able to restore funding to the Extension Service (4-H and Master Gardeners) who have committed to filling the Master Gardener position.

The Observer reported total project numbers for some of the items; however, the impact on budget year 2021 is much less. The $4.3 million for the animal shelter is for a multi-year project to meet our commitment to improve animal services in Sandoval County by 2024. To meet our immediate animal care needs, we have allocated $250,000 for 2021. The state now requires body cameras for all law enforcement officers. We have asked for $324,000 for additional cameras and to meet the newly created video storage requirements — which is projected to cost $724,000 by 2026.

The commission is focused on meeting the needs of our communities. The county’s ICIP reflects our commitment to today’s needs and tomorrow’s promise.

(Dave Heil is the chairman and District 4 representative on the Sandoval County Commission.)