Talon News - Good Local News

By Debbie Israel



December 1, 2017

Debbie Israel

he Incubator/HUB building, being purchased by the city, currently houses 550 Brewing, the Aztec Chamber of Commerce and the NW NM Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)

When Aztec City Commissioners met on Nov. 28, they knew they had a difficult decision to make - whether or not to go ahead with the purchase of the HUB/Business Incubator building located at 119 E. Chuska/119 S. Church.

Two years ago, the city entered into a Lease/Purchase agreement with the Aztec Presbyterian Church. That lease agreement expires on Jan. 1, 2018. Commissioners held a workshop meeting and a closed meeting to discuss the options on Monday, 11/27.

Finance Director Kathy Lamb advised commission that funds for the purchase of the HUB were not budgeted, but that funds could be moved from other departments.

Community Director Steven Saavedra also mentioned that a federal grant had been applied for to help with the purchase price. Commissioner Katee McClure pointed out that the grant would obligate the city to run the HUB for fifteen years.

The purchase price and operating costs were discussed and it was estimated that these could total $235,000. This amount included estimates to purchase the building and do some repairs to bring it up to code. Additional $125,000 would be required to staff the facility full time in 2018.

Before commissioners voted on the purchase, Mayor Sally Burbridge opened up the room for citizen input. Three citizens chose to speak, and all three encouraged commissioners to continue with the purchase and keep the incubator open. No one in the audience came forward to ask that the city not proceed with the purchase.

When the vote came in, it was 3-2 to continue with the purchase. Commissioners Katee McClure and Austin Randall held the opposing votes. Randall said, " This is something we have discussed, and we just can't fund it responsibly." McClure echoed that saying, "We just can't afford it."

After the meeting McClure said "I was stunned that it passed. In my opinion, other city departments will suffer." She was referring to the fact that money will be taken from other city departments to make the purchase happen.

Commissioner Sheri Rogers was on the fence until the very last moment, saying she had decided to vote against the purchase until she heard the comments from community members. She also said, "As an incubator, some of the things we envisioned didn't happen."

Other business for the evening included the Sparkles Lighting Contest and the upcoming election.

Commissioners voted to continue the lighting contest with Aztec merchants, giving each participant a $75 credit on their electric bill. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place, and People's Choice. All prizes will be for credits to the business's utility bill. All entries must be turned in by Dec. 15.

Any resident of Aztec can vote for People's Choice by electronic or paper ballots. Electronic and paper ballots will be available on the city's website. Paper ballots will also be available at the Aztec Visitor Center, and must be returned there also.

The city election will be held on March 6. Three positions are open, District 2, 4 and 5. All positions are for a four year term. Absentee ballots may be obtained from the office of the Municipal Clerk, and must be turned in by March 2. Early voting will begin Feb. 14. Persons must be registered to vote at the San Juan County Clerk's office by Feb. 6 in order to vote in the election.


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