Today, Silver City was honored to be visited by the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee. This body of New Mexico Legislators has monitored and overseen the operations of the finance authority since 1978. The committee is statutorily required to monitor and oversee state and local government capital planning and financing; provide advice and assistance to the authorities and cooperate with state and local governments on planning and setting priorities for and financing of state, local, border and port-of-entry capital projects, etc.
The meeting was held at Western New Mexico University at the Thomas B. McDonald Student Memorial Center. Chairwoman, Senator Mary Kay Papen called the meeting to order and asked the Legislators to introduce themselves along with several staff and guests. She then invited our own Senator Howie Morales the opportunity to Chair the committee meeting. Yolanda O’Connell, Comptroller, WNMU gave a welcome presentation.
The third item on the agenda was an overview of local capital projects and capital needs. Mayor James Marshall and Town Manager Alex Brown named as their priorities a city office and library campus, roads and drainage, expanding the town cemetery and the town pool as their priorities. Next, Jon Paul Saari County Manager and Henry Torres Chairman of the County Commission listed the detention center, vehicles, Fort Bayard, civic center, roads, Battan Memorial Park and Water (AWSA) as their top priorities. Mayor Rudy Martinez of Bayard said their priorities included a new library, updates to the community center, animal shelter and a cemetery. (I didn’t know that Bayard has never had a cemetery) Lastly, Ray C. Baca Mayor of Hurley reported that their number one priority was a water system, also they are seeking funds to renovate a city hall building, streets, and vehicle purchases and maintenance.
The fourth item on the agenda was: Local Hospital Funding through the New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) and Cigarette Tax. CEO Brian Bentley of Gila Regional Medical Center reported on the Gila Cancer Center and the success it has been for the community. Mark Valenzuela, Director of Governmental Affairs and Legislative Finance Strategy, NMFA spoke about the income from the cigarette tax and how a portion of it helps fund small rural hospitals. How the funds are used with 85% of the tax collected going to health care projects and about $40m into the general fund. He reported that revenue from the cigarette tax is down and may continue to drop as consumers quit smoking.
The Silver City Grant County Prospectors invited everyone to a luncheon they were hosting in honor of the Legislators to be held at Issac’s downtown. Once at Issac’s there was another round of introductions of Prospectors, Legislators and Guests.
Next on the agenda was a tour of the Murray Hotel in Silver City which is being funded through Statewide Economic Development Revolving Fund and a tour of Fort Bayard Medical Center with Katrina Hotrum, Deputy Secretary, Dept of Health and Facilities Manager, GEO Care, Representative Rudy Martinez.
The group will travel on to Deming this evening with a dinner in Palomas, Mexico. The meeting continues tomorrow with Deming/Luna county leaders giving an overview of local capital projects and capital needs, a review of Border Authority Activities and Proposed Legislation and a Spaceport Authority Update.