Tijeras Mayor Jake Bruton spoke with council members at Monday’s Council Meeting about the possible annexation of the surrounding area of the village. The village is working on a petition to annex nearby properties that would more than double the size of the village.
Bruton said he gets phone calls and emails at least a few times a week from people in the surrounding areas that want to be a part of the incorporated village. Ultimately, that decision will be up to the landowners under the mayor’s plan.
According to New Mexico statute, there are three ways to annex a territory, the arbitration method, the boundary commission method, and the petition method, and Bruton said the village is looking into utilizing the latter. “With the petition method, we actually use a petition, and we get 51% of landowners to agree on the proposed area,” he said.
If a majority of landowners consent to the annexation, the village would file an ordinance with the county clerk.
If no landowner with the proposed territory files an appeal within 30 days, the process would be considered complete.
Village Clerk Hallie Brown said the timeline for such an annexation hasn’t been determined yet because the village attorneys are still drafting a petition, but the petition would be sent to the landowners in the proposed annexed territories to decide, and they would vote yes or no on the annexation of the land.
Brown said she doesn’t know exact figures for acreage for the territories, or how many households or businesses are in those areas, but the plan is to “have enough land so that GCC [Rio Grande] could still be annexed even if they did not agree, given that 51 percent of other landowners sign the petition.”
Bruton said he has wanted to incorporate the cement plan for years. “[Annexation] is probably the only way we’re going to get to that point, to tell you truth,” he said. “To where we have say so over remediation, water use, road use, pollution, noise, all those endeavors.”
Councilor Don Johnson said he’s been around as councilor for decades, and what Bruton has seen with phone calls about annexation is nothing new.
“It’s been going on for a long time, and what we had for years was we would just not accept anybody until we had the water system finished so all of the residents of the village had water services,” Johnson said. “And we’ve reached that point. We’ve accomplished that, that’s a big thing. The sewer system is a little bit different animal, it’s going to take a long time, a lot of money, and in my opinion, we’ve always had an issue with annexing the cement factory simply because of the county. It seems to me we have found a possible way to take care of that situation and create a major opportunity for the Village of Tijeras.”
Bruton said there are also a few other major factors that would make annexing the surrounding area beneficial for Tijeras.
“All the people in those proposed areas are currently using our services,” he said. “They’re driving on our roads, they’re going to our senior center, they’re showing up to our MVD. They are currently using our services and we’re paying for them. They are not actually giving their fair share to provide those services. So, with property tax, and through [gross receipt tax] and things like that, we’ll definitely be getting the tax benefit of them utilizing our services but not actually contributing to those services. We’re paying for everybody, but not everybody is paying.”
Bruton also said the proposed annexation would pick up a co-op that includes 75 water connections, a well, a water tank, and gravity feed systems, as well as two gas stations that would contribute to road fund through New Mexico gas tax. He said the annex could help create a full-time fire department as well.
“It would go a long ways to developing a full fire department, and public safety,” he said. “With gross receipts like that, we would be able to employ firefighters that would be here seven days a week, 365 days a year, and responding quicker than Bernalillo County. It would actually be able to help drive down everybody’s homeowner’s insurance if we had another full-time fire department sitting right here. It’d save … three to five percent of homeowner’s insurance.
Councilor Yvette Garcia said she was concerned about the residents already living in Tijeras.
“Are we taking care of our residents first?” she said. “Are our residents going to have water? Wastewater, their roads fixed, things like that? Is this all going to happen before we take this on, because I feel like the moment that we bring these other residents in, they’re going to want the water, and they’re going to want the wastewater and they’re going to want their roads improved, and are we going to be able to deliver on that? Especially when we haven’t delivered to our current residents. How is that going to play out for our current residents?”
Bruton said there is water available for every single Tijeras resident already, and as far as a completed wastewater system goes, that isn’t expected to be completed for at least a couple of decades regardless of the area, but the village is a pivot point, so the wastewater system would have to go through existing areas in the village first, before it got to any annexed area.
Brown said she and Deputy Clerk Nick Kennedy would be hosting informational meetings on what Tijeras could look like in 10 years if the surrounding areas were to be annexed.
“The intention is that it could be a forum for both current residents of the village and for people who are in the proposed annexed areas,” she said. “It can serve both audiences and that’s our intention.”