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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Santolina And Mesa del Sol; History To Repeat? Plus: Oil Hits Santa Fe's Price, BernCo Needs A Building And Renewable Energy Office Get's Guv Veto 

Santolina, meet Mesa Del Sol. That's the semi-ghost town south of the city that the boosters said was to be crowded by now with thousands of middle class families living the ABQ dream. The economic crash took care of that and the after effects of the crash make Santolina look like a giant uncertainty--like Mesa del Sol. Still, we get this:

Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, the owner of the site, anticipates that the project will be developed to include roughly 38,000 households and about 75,000 jobs.

Maybe those are the jobs that somehow never showed up at Mesa del Sol?

The days of ABQ's uber-growth are long over. The secular economic decline/stagnation that struck in 2009 shows no signs of abating. ABQ will grow but more along the lines of "what you see is what you get." Still,  there's no law against developers losing their shirts betting on the wrong numbers. Just ask Mesa del Sol. . .

Also on the BernCo beat today. . .

Bernalillo County is tied up in knots over its office space--it's spread out and outdated. Yet the county commission is talking about buying the outdated and inconvenient Alvarado Square complex downtown and attempting an expensive renovation to make the 1980 building suitable for the 21st century.

But the county could have a brand new building where all its employees could be housed. Maybe not right away, but if it sold off the various parcels it owns around town it would give it the cash to float a bond issue and build something new (at historically low interest rates) and get on with the new century, instead of trying to go back in time to Alvarado Square. It could buy Alvarado Square at a bargain price, demolish it and erect the new building there.

Funding new government buildings is not popular with the public, but it has been 30 years since we built Government Center to house both the city and county. Look at the Federal government. They don't go for a patchwork solution. When a new courthouse complex is needed, it gets constructed. Every several decades a new one is built and updated with the latest technology and conveniences.

BernCo is currently having some rocky financial times but that needn't stop its leaders from doing what their predecessors did--planning for the future and building for it.

THE MAGIC NUMBER


The magic number is $56 a barrel and West Texas oil hit that mark for the first time in a while Wednesday. The state budget that goes into effect July 1 assumes the average price of oil is  $56. For each dollar it falls below that the general fund loses $7 million. The state budget has flat lined in recent years. It was squeezed this year by the crash in oil prices and the many tax cuts and incentives that have shaved revenue collections.

As for a special session of the Legislature to approve that $264 million capital outlay bill that died at the end of the last session, the Alligator odds have shifted in favor of a one day meeting. Still, it will take an army to keep Gov. Martinez and the radical right from jamming the whole thing up by trying to get tax cuts or repealing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. If everyone can take a deep breath and commit to one or two bills and one day, a deal can and should be had.

NOT RENEWED

This one hasn't been in the media yet, but our bill watchers note that Gov. Martinez used the veto to nix all the funding--several hundred thousand dollars--for the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA). Maybe some of our readers know what was behind that move? Meanwhile, here's some analysis from an energy Alligator:

The list of current projects shows RETA involved with 5 separate power line projects that together would create 13,000 construction jobs and over $5 billion in investment . These lines cost $2 million or so per mile. This would be huge investment in our state.

Also, these lines would allow renewable energy projects to be developed that would be worth many times the cost of the lines. The renewable energy projects would mean more money for ranchers, the Land Office/Land Grant Permanent Fund and NM/US residents/citizens because of the associated royalties, rents and fees.

I was just in Tulsa for oil and gas meetings and drove through Amarillo on the way out there. There is mile after mile of wind farms. Ranchers and farmers in TX will be able to expand and grow their ranches and farms because of the income from these projects. NM needs to get its act together.

EL PASO CITY

Maybe it's time for a weekend in El Paso:

The top five happiest metro areas also included urban Honolulu, Hawaii; Raleigh, North Carolina; Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California; and El Paso, Texas, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a measure based on factors such as feelings of purpose and physical health.

They call it "Sun City."

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