County OKs replenishing economic development funds

Sandoval County Economic Development Director Dora Dominguez

By Matt Hollinshead for the Rio Rancho Observer

BERNALILLO — Seeing continued job growth it supported in recent years, the Sandoval County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to replenish the county’s economic development funds Wednesday.

The new money comes from economic development projects, frequently payments in lieu of taxes that companies make under industrial revenue bonds.

Commission Vice Chairman Dave Heil told the Observer replenishing the money will help the county pay for incentives for proposed projects such as  facility expansion and improvements at Akins Manufacturing in Algodones to create new 40 full-time jobs. That project will be up for discussion in February.

“We didn’t want to set up a new tax. We wanted to kind of take a little portion off of each one of these projects that’s been successful to continue to refund the economic development fund,” he said. “You take the IRB from Intel, a certain amount of the taxes that Intel will pay, we will apply that 25 percent to it… That’s how it will continue to fund.”

The county established two economic development accounts back in Fiscal Year 2017, using Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) money and Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs).

Commissioner Jay Block told the Observer that economic development fund was first set up in 2017 using payments in lieu of taxes from Intel, as per the company’s industrial revenue bonds.

“You’ve seen the number of small businesses that this commission has supported… We’ve helped create hundreds of jobs because of that… We’re going to keep it replenished,” he said.

The two accounts would receive the following:

  • 25 percent of future PILT payments the county receives as a result of an IRB project
  • 25 percent of all future administrative fees the county receives as the result of private activity bonds issued for the purpose of supporting workforce housing in Sandoval County
  • 25 percent of non-dedicated general fund gross receipts taxes generated as a result of a LEDA project
  • After a LEDA or IRB project is completed, the county would dedicate 25 percent of the increase in non-dedicated GRT revenue, which is projected by the economic impact assessment, to the accounts over a five-year period

Revenue would be divided equally between the two accounts.

County Economic Development Director Dora Dominguez discusses replenishing the county’s economic development fund during Wednesday’s county commission meeting. (Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

Heil said that fund started with about $3 million and got up to $5 million.

“There was money sitting in the account for a period of time, so there was interest from that,” he said.

County Manager Wayne Johnson, who appeared remotely, told the commission the resolution he put forth provides 25 percent replenishment of funding based upon the return on a project.

County Economic Development Director Dora Dominguez told the commission that five projects using county LEDA funds helped create close to 500 jobs, adding every direct job created had a multiplier effect.

Dominguez told the Observer that the county needs to be able to compete to draw in commercial projects.

“Coming up with a funding mechanism that is coming from the very projects that got LEDA funds to begin with, it’s the right path to go,” she said. “It’ll give us the opportunity to have a source of funding.”

Heil told the Observer 25 percent of the money the county gets from things like the solar farm IRBs will go into the fund. He also said the replenished funds translates into increasing jobs rather than than increasing taxes.

“As we do more of these, it builds on itself to have more programs, helping fund future programs,” he said.

County will also serve as St. Felix Pantry’s fiscal agent

The commissioners unanimously OK’d that resolution, which will allow St. Felix Pantry to receive state money through the county to help feed 300 households.

County also OKs money for DWI program, body cam equipment

The commissioners also voted to adjust the DWI program budget to add an extra $174,000 in revenue, as well as appropriating $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money for sheriff’s office body cameras.