October 8, 2008

HP Center Bond Appeal Needs Panel OK

By Rosalie Rayburn Journal Staff Writer

City councilors will vote tonight on a resolution to ask the state to help secure funding for essential infrastructure for the HP center slated to be built in Rio Rancho.

Gov. Bill Richardson's office announced in June that the computer and peripherals giant Hewlett Packard would open a customer service center next year in the city's Downtown area.

The center will be on land northwest of the Santa Ana Star Center, which lacks basic services such as water and sewer lines.

City staff are awaiting council approval to apply to the New Mexico Finance Authority to issue $5.2 million in bonds to pay for a parking lot, water and wastewater lines, said the city's financial services director Dick Kristof, in a phone interview Tuesday.

A briefing memo supplied to the councilors says the projects will cost $5.2 million, the rest of the money will go toward administrative fees associated with issuing the bonds.

If approved, the Finance Authority would issue 20-year bonds carrying an interest rate of 4.75 percent. The city would use a portion of its gross receipts tax revenues to repay them.

The memo sets a target date for the project work to begin in November and be completed within one year.

In June, the Governor's Office said the HP center would create over 1,000 jobs in Rio Rancho. The state has offered HP an incentive package of training reimbursements and high-wage tax breaks worth between $28 million and $40 million.

The governor also said he would ask the Legislature to approve $12 million in capital outlay funding to help offset infrastructure costs.

Kristof said the Finance Authority bonds Rio Rancho is seeking will be separate from and in addition to any money the Legislature appropriates. He said the bond money would be spent on projects specifically related to the land where the center will be located.

He said the city is responsible for preparing the land for the HP center and will retain ownership of the site.

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