Capital Spending: $500 at Hidalgo Senior Center, $20.5 million at UNM

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By Harold Morgan


Capital spending is supposed to be for stuff that lasts a while. We have a special affection for senior centers and borrow money against property tax receipts to pay for senior things. The technical terminology here is issuing and selling general obligation bonds subject to voter approval. Issuing the bonds will cost about $2 million. 

The three smallest dollar amounts approved for seniors by this year’s Legislature are $500 for “other equipment” at the Ena Mitchell Senior and Wellness Center in Lordsburg, $570 for meals equipment for the Vaughn Senior Center and $840 for “other equipment” at the Mora Senior Center. 

While government is not meant to be efficient, some inefficiency appears with these tiny items. The cost of the time required to complete the necessary paperwork is may be higher than the cost of the item. Given the time required to get the items onto the bond issue, waiting months until the election and issuing the bonds, just how essential are these? Not very, is my guess. 

The senior bits and pieces total $10.8 million for 124 projects, plus another $5.7 million for vehicles for 50 centers. Did all their cars and vans wear out at once? 

If the list of projects requested by legislators provides any clue, many more bits and pieces are tucked into the $47.5 million for House local projects and the $46.9 million for Senate local projects.

The numbers today come from several appendices in the Legislative Finance Committee’s “2014 Post-Session Review.” Money for these projects will come from general obligation bonds, severance tax bonds and what the LFC calls “other state funds.” 

But on to bigger things: the $20.5 million to redo the Farris Engineering building at the University of New Mexico, the $19.2 million for Jett Hall and Rentfrow Hall at New Mexico State and the $15 million chemistry building at New Mexico Tech. Total approved higher education capital spending is $130 million allocated to seven four-year institutions, ten branch colleges and seven independent institutions, plus another $9.8 million divvied among New Mexico Military Institute and four tribal schools. 

Money from the Public School Capital Outlay Fund will pay for projects valued at $8.3 million at the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and $7 million of work on Cartwright Hall at the School for the Deaf. Under the Public Education Department, new school buses will cost $7.4 million while information technology supporting computer-based assessments will get $5 million. 

Nearly everything in a group called “governor’s initiatives” has to do with water. The money is pulled from various fund categories. The big item is $36.3 million for “water projects statewide” under the Environment Department. Dam work under the State Engineer’s Office will get $12 million, with $5 million under the Interstate Stream Commission, including acequia improvements and habitat restoration.

The ever-present silvery minnow steps in for $1.35 million. A refugium production facility, which means a breeding place, gets $900,000. Listed separately is $6.2 million for watershed restoration, including forest thinning, by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The Secretary of State will spend $6 million for voting tabulator systems, which scan, count and secure our ballots. 

Among things not happening thanks to vetoes are signs in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill Corridor ($230,000), at S.Y. Jackson Elementary School ($33,000) and the Atrisco Land Grant ($1,600). Nor will $25,000 be spent for mariachi instruments for the West Las Vegas Public Schools, a disaster no doubt. 

Making the cut was $250,000 for the Department of Game and Fish to build new shooting ranges and $6.4 million for the southern access road to the Spaceport. 

Priorities, after all.