Zita Fletcher, Rio Rancho Observer Staff Writer
PUBLISHED: July 30, 2016
The Sandoval County Commission on Thursday passed a resolution expressing the county’s willingness to issue industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) from $1 million up to $50 billion for eligible projects to induce economic development.
“This is not for any specific organization,” District 4 Commissioner Glenn Walters, the resolution’s sponsor, told the Observer. “We have no specific companies in mind … . We’re just saying our doors are open.”
IRBs are viewed as a way to motivate businesses to expand or relocate. They are a financing mechanism that reduces a company’s borrowing costs for projects, and typically include a break on gross receipts and property taxes. They do not affect residents’ property taxes or obligate the county’s revenues.
Commission Chair Darryl Madalena hailed the resolution as “a new multi-faceted tool that we have to utilize.”
The resolution notes Sandoval County passed two of the largest IRBs in U.S. history for Intel in 1980 and 2004, the latter being for $16 billion for expansion in 2004. This is the largest IRB amount authorized by the commission since then.
According to the resolution, the measure will assist the activities of the nonprofit Sandoval Economic Alliance, which is tasked to recruit and retain businesses for local job creation.
The New Mexico Industrial Revenue Bond Act authorizes counties to issue industrial revenue bonds for such purposes. An IRB can be used to advance various types of industries, such as oil, gas, manufacturing and many different types of businesses.
The IRB bonds approved by the commission can be used for more than one business and are not industry-exclusive.
“This is a great tool,” said District 1 Commissioner James Dominguez. “It allows rural communities to start moving forward and creates jobs. I’m all for it.”
District 3 Commissioner Don Chapman cited recent economic development in Sandoval County and supported improving the county’s website to make the IRB application process more appealing to prospective businesses.
A second part of the motion states the commission will “streamline” the IRB approval process – improving procedures to ensure matters flow smoothly for potential investors.
County Manager Phil Rios said he has been discussing with SEA and the county business development department how to ease the application process for companies. He said the resolution outlines their tasks.
“I think it’s a really promising thing and could end up with some really good results,” Walters told the Observer. “It’s the kind of tool we need to have in our tool bag.”