The village of Tijeras is moving forward with a proposed annexation, that if approved, would vastly increase both its population and the land area. Village officials said a decision could be made by this spring.
The village plans additional meetings to solicit input from residents, and is urging anyone with concerns or questions to contact firstname.lastname@example.org as the process continues.
It held a meeting, hosted by Mayor Jake Bruton, the village clerk, Hallie Brown, and deputy clerk Nick Kennedy, who explained the basics of the proposal to the dozens of people who tuned in.
In an interview with The Independent, Bernalillo County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty advocated deliberate and cautious action. “Annexation is not something you can just undo,” Pyskoty said, adding that the village would have to disincorporate to undo an annexation.
According to information provided by Enrico Gradi, deputy county manager, the annexation would pick up 763 additional parcels in its first phase; currently there are 379 parcels in the village.
There are six active commercial business licenses in the proposed annexation area, along with 17 active residential business licenses.
The village would pick up an additional 8.5 miles of road, of which 7.5 miles are paved.
The village currently has three water wells, one inactive; there are 541 homes hooked up to the village water system. Bruton said the third well is online.
At its meeting Jan. 5, Bruton described the annexation as “mainly a citizen-driven effort,” and the process of annexation is through a vote of landowners in the proposed area to be annexed. Those already within the village limits would not be able to vote, but can make their wishes known to the village council, he said.
The first phase would include the Rincon Loop area, the I-40 corridor, the Pinecrest and Pineview areas and the Rio Grande Cement Plant. The ability to exert some regulatory control over the cement plant is part of the impetus for the annexation proposal, Bruton said.
“It would allow us to have a say in zoning and reclamation,” he said, adding, “There is considerable damage being done to the mountain.”
“A lot of Bernalillo County tax dollars end up in the city of Albuquerque,” Brown said. “This would allow your tax dollars to stay on local projects.”
The village officials said the village is “overfunded on road maintenance” and said it expects to improve road services for those annexed miles, if approved.
Kennedy said if landowners approve the annexation, “It can be challenged.” He added, “It’s not being forced on anyone.” Kennedy laid out a timeline of a few months until the vote.
First, letters will go out to landowners in the proposed annexation areas; they’ll have 45 days to respond with their vote. After that, if it’s approved, it would go to both Bernalillo County and Tijeras for approval and could also be challenged in district court.
Bruton said the village has hired an economist to analyze the financial implications of the proposal.
Gradi said that several open space and other county properties lie within the proposed annexation area, including Tijeras Creek Open Space, Los Vecinos Community Center, Ojito de San Antonio Open Space and the East Mountain Transfer Station, which is in the second phase of the proposed annexation.
Gradi said the county has not heard yet whether the village might be contemplating zoning changes or “about how the village plans to regulate these existing facilities relative to their new zoning code.
Bernalillo County Fire Chief Greg Perez said that in its simplest terms, fire suppression efforts in the area would not change with an annexation, as the county already provides the lion’s share of fire service. He said that over the past three years, the village’s volunteer department has responded to 11% of calls in the village.
Perez said there are two ways a fire department can interact with a municipality, through an automatic aid agreement—which it currently has—or a mutual ad agreement.
“We will respond,” Perez said. “If they annex or leave it as-is today, there would be no change in the level of service. … If you call for help, we’re coming.”
One thing that could change, however, is that the county might decide to charge the village for this fire protection, following a model it uses with the village of Los Ranchos. “It’s something we’ll definitely be looking at with the village of Tijeras, regardless of if they annex.”
He said the service provided by the county “is above and beyond what the tax base would begin to cover.”
Perez said he is neutral on the annexation, but wants to make sure that “the village is honest and truthful with the residents in the annex and be very clear how it relates to county services. … That’s the part that kind of sits wrong with me. Just be truthful that you’re going to rely on another agency … until such time as you have enough revenue to create your own department.”
Pyskoty also expressed concerns about property and gross receipts taxes, with the ISO ratings and insurance costs for residents, and the fact that if annexed, those residents and businesses would have to change their addresses from Cedar Crest to Tijeras. She also pointed to potential future development, like a Walmart.
Both gross receipts taxes and property taxes would be “slightly higher,” Kennedy said, if the annexation goes through, with the increase in property tax about $29 per $100,000 assessed value.
“I would really like people to know this is a serious matter,” Pyskoty said. She said in a later interview that she has “major concerns.”
She said, “To really build up the level of services would take a long time. … In general, I just want people to have accurate information.”
“The only way we will annex is with community support,” Bruton said.
To voice your opinion on this proposed annexation, contact the village at 505-281-1220 or email@example.com, or visit its website, villageoftijeras.com.
To contact Bernalillo County, visit bernco.gov, or call 505-314-0385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Pyskoty at email@example.com.