Stansbury talks infrastructure issues at roundtable

Democratic U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury discussed infrastructure issues and grants that could help fix those issues during a roundtable discussion at Rio Rancho City Hall on Thursday. Stansbury said she and her office have been working with the Biden administration to find ways to help local governments and tribal entities access federal funding for infrastructure […]

Stansbury talks infrastructure issues at roundtable

Democratic U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury discussed infrastructure issues and grants that could help fix those issues during a roundtable discussion at Rio Rancho City Hall on Thursday.

Stansbury said she and her office have been working with the Biden administration to find ways to help local governments and tribal entities access federal funding for infrastructure projects.

“There are lots of existing pots of money out there and many of our local governments already have very sophisticated grant finding application processes and then we have other communities that are frankly, overworked and understaffed and don’t have those resources,” Stansbury said.

Some of the funding sources Stansbury mentioned came from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“A lot of people don’t realize that (the Inflation Reduction Act) included also billions of dollars in funding for water projects, clean energy projects, economic development partnerships, opportunities to retrofit homes for energy efficiency, it just has a whole slew of different kinds of programs that that can both benefit residents of your communities as well as invest in infrastructure that cities and villages may want to invest in,” Stansbury said.

Many attendees said the problem was not the availability of funding, but rather that the grant application process could be daunting to navigate.

Stansbury replied that one of the reasons for this roundtable was to find out what issues the local government or tribal entities needed to address to access the funds as well as tell them that funding was available.

Infrastructure assistance at state level

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Infrastructure Advisor Rebecca Roose spoke about funding available at the state level and updates including HB 232 which would set up an Infrastructure Planning and Development Division within the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

The Legislature passed the bill, and it currently sits on Lujan Grisham’s desk.

“So you’ve heard the congresswoman talk about the difficulty navigating all the funding sources, figuring out how to navigate state funding plus federal funding (and) how to most effectively use your capital outlay planning process,” Roose said. “This new division is building on some existing components within DFA and adding new capacity and it’s likely to be the group at DFA that manages the match fund as well.”

The New Mexico Federal Matching Grant helps local government or tribal entities to be granted funds to help them pay match funds on federal grants.

A match fund is what the local government or tribal entity is expected to pay to meet eligibility for federal grants. For example, a federal grant could require a county applying for a federal grant for a project to come up with 15 percent of the total funding of the project.

The New Mexico Federal Matching Grant would help that county pay the required match funds.

Federal budget earmarks

The annual federal budget process involves earmarks, now called Community Funded Projects, which are submitted by members of Congress to the House Committee on Appropriations, which will decide if the projects should be written into the appropriations budget.

This is similar to the state capital outlay process in which local government or tribal entities submit their Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan and the legislature decides how much, if any, funding should go to the projects on the submitted lists.

Stansbury suggested, as a former state legislator, that ICIP’s be submitted in the summer since state legislators do not know what the budget may look like until two weeks or so into the regular session. 

“ At that point, then… many of the legislators sort of prioritize… what came in the door first and who they made commitments to,” Stansbury said.

Attendees included representatives from Sandoval County, Rio Rancho, Santa Ana Pueblo, Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority and the governor’s office.

Stansbury said she plans to hold more roundtable discussions about infrastructure throughout 2024.

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