Could the South Valley Become Its Own City?
By Marisa Demarco
It's like being 30 and having your parents still make decisions for you as if you were in your single-digit years, says Mike Ciesielski.
Ciesielski is a 30-year South Valley resident and a member of a group studying the possibility of the South Valley becoming its own municipality. In his analogy, the valley is the adult, and the parents are the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. "The South Valley has grown up," he says. "We can make our own decisions about all the services that we will need."
If the South Valley were to incorporate, it would be a sizable New Mexican city, he adds, with around 50,000 residents. The study, to be done by UNM's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, will look at whether the valley generates enough taxes to support itself. "We've already been looking at communities around the state of similar size to see what their [the South Valley's] expenditures would look like," says Lee Reynis, the bureau's director. The bureau is also making a list of what facilities exist in the area and started tallying up how much Bernalillo County spends on the South Valley, she says.
Decades of shoestring annexations have taken their toll on the South Valley, Ciesielski says. It's a phenomenon seen all over the country. A large city annexes pockets of land in a nearby unincorporated area, the property of a Wal-Mart, for example. All the gross receipts tax from that business go to the city. "Guess who's left holding the bag?" Ciesielski asks. "They take the South Valley money, and they spend it in the city of Albuquerque."
Ed Adams, the city's chief operations officer, says the incorporation wouldn't have much of a financial impact on Albuquerque. "Anything already within the municipal boundaries of the city of Albuquerque is not up for consideration."
Ciesielski says he has not yet heard of any backlash from Albuquerque or Bernalillo County regarding potential incorporation, but it's only a matter of time. "As more and more publicity is gained and people become aware of what we're doing, the powers that be will want to organize against it."
Rep. Miguel Garcia pulled down $45,000 from the 2007 Legislative Session to conduct a study examining whether it's possible for the South Valley to incorporate. The South Valley Incorporation Study Advisory Group began meeting about two months ago to determine boundaries. Though the group finalized the boundaries Friday, Aug. 10, a final map was awaiting Rep. Garcia's approval. At press time Tuesday, the Alibi had still not received a copy of the map. Check alibi.com for further updates.
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