KUNM

Cash-Strapped NM Takes Back Construction Funds, Pueblo Takes Tax Dispute To Federal Court

Oct 22, 2016

Cash-Strapped New Mexico Takes Back Construction FundsAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a budget solvency bill that would shore up the state general fund with money from stalled construction projects.

The Republican governor signed a measure Friday that would shift almost $90 million to state operating reserves mostly from projects authorized in 2013 and 2014 that never broke ground. Some projects would be reauthorized with borrowings from severance tax bonds.

Lawmakers approved a solvency package this month during a special session to help address a nearly $600 million operating budget deficit.

Martinez reinstated funding for four capital projects targeted by the Legislature because they involved private or federal matching money, or commitments already were made.

Nearly 120 projects were listed for suspension. State economists expect the impact on employment and the economy to be minimal.

More Voters Registering Online In New MexicoAssociated Press

Online voter registration has gained in popularity in New Mexico since the system pioneered at the start of the year.

New Mexico Elections Director Kari Fresquez said Friday that about 108,000 people have gone online to register or update voter records this year in a state with nearly 2.1 million residents. More than 25,000 people used the online system in the last couple of days before the general election registration deadline.

Democrats account for just over 49,000 of the people using the online voter registration system. Republicans account for nearly 30,000. Others choose small parties or have no affiliation.

Those numbers roughly correspond with party affiliation among all registered voters.

About 44,000 people have registered online so far this year.

Acoma Pueblo Takes Property Tax Fight To Federal CourtAssociated Press

Acoma Pueblo has launched a legal fight, arguing that a more than century-old federal law prevents local and state officials from collecting property tax on tribally-owned land even if it's located outside of the tribe's recognized boundaries.

The tribe filed its lawsuit in federal court in Las Cruces earlier this month.

New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla and Cibola County Treasurer Geraldine Rael are named as defendants.

The pueblo received a delinquent tax notice in September, saying more than $30,000 was owed and that the land would be sold if the bill wasn't paid.

The tribe argues the county and state have no authority to collect taxes on two commercial tracts the tribe purchased in 2004. It points to a 1905 federal law, saying the land is exempt.

Isleta Pueblo To Celebrate Multimillion-Dollar SettlementAssociated Press

Tribal and federal officials will be gathering on the banks of the Rio Grande at Isleta Pueblo to celebrate the settlement of a dispute stemming from one of the diversion dams along the river.

Officials said Friday the multimillion-dollar agreement grants the federal government easement for the dam for the next 100 years and resolves trespass issues associated with dam.

The pueblo also will receive a lump sum payment as well as support for sediment management, restoration projects in the wooded area along the river and other environmental work.

Through the negotiations, officials also ratified standard operating procedures for the dam and completed plans for data collection, dam operations record-keeping and sediment disposal.

Pueblo Gov. E. Paul Torres says Isleta recognizes the importance of the dam in that it delivers water to farmers and communities along the river.

New Mexico Jobless Rate Rises To 6.7 Percent In SeptemberAssociated Press

New Mexico's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is up for the third straight month.

The Department of Workforce Solutions reports that the September rate was 6.7 percent as nonfarm employment dropped by 2,000 jobs from September 2015.

The state's unemployment rate was steady at 6.2 percent in March, April, May and June before rising to 6.4 percent in July and 6.6 percent in August.

Of the 13 industries measured in the state's economy, six added jobs, six lost jobs and one was unchanged from September 2015.

The largest gain was recorded by education and health services, up 6,100 jobs over the year, while mining lost 6,900 jobs.

DA: State AG Will Prosecute Suspect In Officer's DeathAssociated Press

Officials say the state attorney general's office will prosecute the man suspected of shooting and killing an Albuquerque police officer last year.

Michael Lewis, a deputy district attorney in Bernalillo County, says the state case stemming from the 2015 shooting death of Officer Daniel Webster will be transferred to the attorney general's office for prosecution.

Authorities say ex-convict Davon Lymon fatally shot Webster a year ago during a traffic stop. State charges in the case have yet to be filed against Lymon, who has remained in custody on federal charges since his arrest in the Oct. 21, 2015, shooting.

Lymon is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Monday for a five-day bench trial on charges of being a felon in possession of the firearm that authorities say was used to shoot Webster.

The Latest: Police link carjacking suspects to other crimesAssociated Press

Authorities say three carjacking suspects who were in a stolen vehicle that crashed into a police SUV are under investigation for a spate of violent crimes across Albuquerque in recent months.

Officer Fred Duran says investigators also linked the suspects to those arrested in the drive-by shooting death of 18-year-old Aliyah Garcia this year. Duran says the suspects have known each other for a while, however, the nature of the connection remains unclear.

Authorities say five carjacking suspects total, some juveniles, are in custody following Friday's pre-dawn crash. Duran says the suspects' vehicle sped through an intersection and hit a police vehicle driven by an off-duty officer.

The officer suffered broken bones. Another was checked for smoke inhalation.

They and the suspects who were treated for injuries are expected to recover.

Carjacked Vehicle Collides With Albuquerque Police VehicleAssociated Press

Authorities in Albuquerque say five carjacking suspects are in custody following a pursuit and a crash involving a police vehicle driven by an off-duty police officer.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department says the Friday morning incident began when a citizen reported being carjacked at gunpoint. The subsequent collision and crash occurred in northwest Albuquerque during a pursuit after the stolen vehicle was spotted.

Authorities say several law enforcement officers and at least four of the carjacking suspects went to hospitals with injuries not considered life-threatening.

The off-duty Albuquerque police officer whose vehicle was involved in the collision was going home at the time and was not part of the pursuit.

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