While there are many issues facing Sandoval County, here are a few of the major ones.
1. Roads. The County maintains cover 1,100 miles of roadways stretching from the East Mountains to beyond Cuba. At a cost of approximately $1 million per mile to construct a road, even repairs are expensive. The County has had an engineering study done and has ranked roads in order of need for repair.
Major roads and bridges, as well as school bus routes, receive top priority. And most of the resources are provided by the State. The County does budget for road repairs, but the County budget is always tight – as a result of one of the lowest tax rates in the State.
Each year the County submits a request for funding to the State, listing the roads (and bridges) that are a priority for repair. It is an extensive list which is never fully funded. In addition, problems arise during the course of the year with other roads not previously designated for repair.
2. County Buildings. Sandoval County is growing, which requires additional employees and buildings to house offices and vehicles. Recently, voters defeated a bond issue to provide funding for a new District Court House. At over $40 million, it is expensive, but necessary since there are more judges than there are courtrooms. The County is asking the State for funds, so this is still a work in progress.
The new Public Safety building is under construction. This will provide space for the Sheriff’s Office
A pet project of Commissioner Bruch is moving closer to fruition – establishing a permanent Animal Shelter. Land is being acquired and funding is available for the building. This is a long overdue necessity for Sandoval County.
3. Public Safety. Both the Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Rescue have added officers and equipment which is providing faster response times. Due to the large geographic area that both departments cover, vehicles accumulate extensive mileage and need to be replaced on a regular basis.
Fire and Rescue is able to tap into the State Fire Fund as well as receive capital outlays from the State. The Sheriff’s Office is able to receive a number of grants that help with equipment purchases and also receive State funding.
The personnel issue is created by the pay scales in effect. Both Bernaillo and Santa Fe Counties pay their public safety officers at higher rates than Sandoval County. Also, the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe do likewise. We have a struggle retaining officers in both departments, but our appointed Fire Chief, Eric Masterson, has done a tremendous job since taking the position a few years ago. Likewise, our elected Sheriff, Jesse James Casaus has also done a great job. Crime rates in the unincorporated areas of the County are low, with violent crimes very rare.
There are many more issues facing the County and I encourage you to tune in or attend a County Commission meeting. You can always submit comments to the Commission or directly to the Commissions by visiting the County website: https://www.sandovalcountynm.gov
Did You Know
* The population of New Mexico in 2022 (2.1 million) is almost exactly the same as it was 10 years ago (2012)
* The population of Sandoval County was 151,369 in 2021 and 134,347 in 2011, a growth rate of 13% in 10 years. Sandoval County has 14% of the state’s population.
* Rio Rancho has 109,002 people in 2023 compared to 92,500 in 2013, a growth rate of 18%. Rio Rancho now has about 72% of the entire population of the county.
*In 2022 there were:
1.34 million registered voters in NM
45% Dems, 31% Repubs, 23% No Party
109,077 registered voters in Sandoval County
42% Dems, 34% Repubs, 23% No Party
47% of registered voters voted in the 2022 election in NM
44% of registered voters voted in the 2022 election in Sandoval County