• Clara Garcia

Belen voters to consider GO bond for police station

BELEN-Voters in the Hub City will have an opportunity to vote on whether they want to pay for a new police station. The Belen City Council unanimously approved placing a question on November’s ballot to allow the city to issue $2.5 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the construction and equipping of a new police station. The resolution also authorizes four positions on November’s ballot — mayor, two council seats and the municipal judge position. “The resolution also authorizes and directs city staff to provide the necessary notices to the county clerk, who will actually conduct the election, and to the state and local government division of DFA,” Alsup said. “My office will also work with Mr. (Andrew) Salas (Belen’s city manager) to provide the notices.”

Councilor Frank Ortega asked Alsup if voters to approve the general obligation bond, would it increase citizen’s property taxes. “That would not raise property taxes,” Alsup replied. “It would be structured so that property taxes would be at a level basis for the maturity of the bonds. Belen voters approved a $4 million general obligation bond in 2016 to build a new fire station. Ortega asked if this GO bond was approved, would the city be at its limit. The city’s financial director, Roseann Peralta, told the councilor it would get the city close to its bonding capacity.

“At the time of issuance of the bonds, it’s likely the city would be close to the 4 percent assessed valuation number that declines over time as the debt is paid off,” Alsup said.

Ortega also expressed his concern that the city is need of upgrading its wastewater plant. He wanted to make sure the city’s priorities are balanced. Peralta told him the cost of a wastewater plan could be funded through a USDA loan.

Steven Tomita, the city’s planning and economic development manager, told the council during Monday’s meeting that the current police station, located on the corner of Becker Avenue and Sixth Street, has black mold and they need to get out of the building for health reasons.

“More research needs to be done as to whether we can kill off the mold or remove it,” Tomita said. “We’re also looking at site locations for the police station, and the possibility of demolishing it and putting a new building there. We’re looking at parking needs, building needs and site needs. We’re looking at different alternatives.”

Belen Police Chief James Harris said the mold problem recently came to light when they were tearing out a wall in one of the offices. He also told the council he had to close off the women’s rest room because the structure underneath the toilet was deteriorating and isn’t safe.

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