Edgewood filed for its latest infill annexation last week, according to its attorney, and it is now up to the Municipal Boundary Commission to set a public hearing on the matter.
The town also pulled back on a wastewater rate increase and worked on a policy for use of its facilities.
After completion of a detailed map by the Mid-Region Council of Governments, or MRCOG, the annexation was ready to be filed, said Mayor Brad Hill.
The town’s attorney, Vanessa Chavez, said the Municipal Boundary Commission has 30 days to set a public hearing on the matter, which will be held in Edgewood, and likely at the Edgewood Community Center.
In a process which started in 2008, Edgewood tried and failed to annex nearly 1,800 acres to close up its “checkerboard” boundaries. At that time, the Boundary Commission characterized the town as “territory-hungry,” saying that it would not be able to provide services to residents if it took in the extra land.
This time around, the town is seeking to annex “1,108 parcels,” according to Chavez, who did not give total acreage of the infill.
One difference this time around is the fact that Santa Fe County has formally agreed to have Edgewood take over its roads within the municipality. Another difference is the makeup of the Boundary Commission itself.
“It’s a three-person commission, appointed by the governor,” Hill told the town council, adding that the board is different than the last one, and made up of one person from Truth or Consequences, one from Santa Fe and one from Albuquerque.
Hill said in a Tuesday interview that the town already provides most of the services required of it, and that road maintenance would probably be the biggest benefit of the annexation if approved.
“The town only has to provide services it is currently providing,” Hill said. “We won’t have to provide sewer and water [to the infill area] because we don’t provide them anywhere.”
Edgewood would have to provide police and animal control services and road maintenance. Because the town already has in place agreements with law enforcement and animal control, many of those calls are already being handled by Edgewood.
As one law enforcement officer told The Independent agencies respond to the call first and sort our jurisdiction issues later.
Hill said the biggest change would be road maintenance, and he expects roads now maintained by the county to get more attention from Edgewood. “There are clearly roads in this interior area currently being maintained by Santa Fe County, we feel not as well as we could do, basically by leaving the blade down.” He said the town blades roads about three times for every time the county does.
In other business, Edgewood decided to phase in its increase to wastewater rates, with the full increase in place in two years instead of right away. It also considered a policy for use of town facilities.
“Sometimes you don’t realize the consequences,” said Mayor Brad Hill, explaining to the town council why he recommended implementing the rate increase incrementally instead of all at once. He said he had heard from businesses on the town’s sewer system saying that the increase was too much, too fast.
The change is administrative, meaning that the town council did not need to vote on it, but Hill said he was seeking input.
Councilor John Abrams said, “It sounds like an administrative nightmare” to increase the rate by 25 percent a year over two years.
“It’s not like we have hundreds of customers,” countered Hill.
Among other things, the 34-page ordinance calls for a $100 application fee; a one-time “service tap” fee of $750; and a fee of $3,500 per ERU, or Equivalent Residential Unit, a measure set by the town’s governing body.
It also automatically increases the rates each year in July, tying the increase to the Consumer Price Index.
Later in the meeting, the town’s engineer Tappan Mahoney outlined amendments he is recommending to the town’s wastewater ordinance.
Mahoney described several changes and clarifications, like a definition of “fats, oils and greases,” and corrected the formula for figuring up a customer’s wastewater bill, which he said had been “compounding pretty substantially.”
Councilor Chuck Ring made the motion to approve the amendments, which was seconded by Rita Loy Simmons. The vote was unanimously in favor of adopting the amendments.
Discussing its policies for uses of town facilities, Edgewood is looking at increasing the fee to use the Community Center from $25 to $40 for 1 to 4 hours; to $75 from $50 for four or more hours, and to $10 from $5 for non-profits.
It is also considering a requirement for liability insurance by anyone who wants to use the facilities.
The Edgewood Community Center does not allow gambling, dances or music, serving alcohol, or any religious services except wakes or funeral receptions.
Other facilities that would be governed by the policy include the athletic fields and the equine arena near Wildlife West, which is managed by Edgewood.
Chavez cautioned the council that any fee set has to at least cover the town’s maintenance cost to avoid running afoul of the “anti-donation clause” to the state’s constitution, which prohibits the government from giving financial benefit to a private entity.
After a lot of discussion about how high to set fees, and what activities would be permitted on town facilities, Councilor John Abrams made a motion to table the matter until March 9.