Commissioners get second chance

By Tony Parra

Roosevelt County Commissioners are reconsidering last month’s decision in which they declined to send a list of legislative priorities to Gov. Bill Richardson.
Commissioners voted 4-to-1 against sending a letter to the governor listing the county’s top three legislative priorities. Commission Chairman Dennis Lopez was the only commissioner who voted in favor of sending the letter that Richardson requested.
County commissioners met with New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration officials on Wednesday morning in a special session to discuss the possibility of still sending in the legislative priorities to the governor. The original deadline was Oct. 15.
The request from the governor was something New Mexico Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, opposed.
“Basically he (Richardson) is trying to take out the legislators and have total control over the capital outlay funds,” Ingle said earlier this month.
New Mexico Sen. Dan Foley, R-Roswell, said this is the first time a governor has sent a letter of request for legislative priorities, Foley said he agrees with Ingle that there’s no need for the letter.
NMDFA Secretary James Jimenez said the reason the governor wanted to create a package with legislative priorities for counties and municipalities is because Richardson felt he didn’t have adequate information about projects in the past when making a decision on funding.
Jimenez said the governor must make his decision on capital outlay requests within 20 days after the Legislature adjourns and he didn’t feel he had enough information to make a decision. Jimenez said the Oct. 15 deadline was set up so municipality and county officials would send in their legislative priorities and NMDFA officials would have enough time to call and follow up on any questions they had on the projects.
NMDFA officials would provide Richardson with a package of information prior to the Legislature convening in January.
Jimenez said funding for projects in a legislative session vary from $100 million to $300 million each year.
Lopez said a final decision on whether Roosevelt County will send a letter to the governor will be put on the agenda for the next county meeting on Nov. 9. Jimenez said if the commissioners decide to send in the legislative priorities to the NMDFA it will not cause delays for the governor.
“We’ve already begun putting information into a database,” Jimenez said. “Most everyone has submitted their requests. We’re busy processing the requests and entering the information.”