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Legislative funded projects

Increased legislative funded projects substantially multiplied M&O's workload

Each year representatives from the State’s Senate and House meet to pass new laws, create and approve the New Mexico Operational Budget and K-12 Educational Budget, and approve capital legislative projects for every state district.

Each New Mexico Congress Representative and Senator is allocated a designated amount of legislative memorial capital projects money for use by their constituents. The funds are strictly to benefit community programs, public schools, and other governmental service entities. Previously, FD+C facilitated most of this capital for small projects but about four years ago Capital Finance started moving some of the projects to M&O. In 2014-15, the quantity of legislative funded work doubled, and in 2015-16 M&O carried out three times the amount of work paid for by these monies over the previous year, approximately 75 projects. The funds allow for improvements much appreciated by the schools, but is resulting in considerably more logistical work for M&O. All paperwork, oversight, inspections, and approvals are performed by M&O while the heavy lifting is carried out by APS contractors. Tight work completion timelines (a six-month maximum) for work projects are set by the State Finance office. Pre-quotes have to be obtained, and plans have to be drawn up. Meeting the inflexible timelines is tricky and the logistics are time intensive and laborious. Just controlling project requests is a trial. M&O knows the legislature’s parameters well and what they will and will not fund. Also, requests from the schools that cannot be maintained by M&O or completed within the approved timeline are redesigned/restructured to meet the criteria. Approximately 65-70% of the approved requests are granted the maximum six-month timeframe. To save time, M&O is completing the planning and putting the proposals together (including pre-quotes) for the legislative liaisons before requests are even submitted so that the Senator or Congress Representative will have the proposal ready to present to the legislature. If the requested project gets passed by the legislature, it goes to the Governor for approval and is signed into law. The State Finance Committee then puts together a proposal to sell general obligation bonds. Once bonds are sold, the state gives M&O the green light to proceed with the project, beginning with bringing the final bids and paperwork current. The new and final bids as well as designs must match the dollar amount appropriated which generally requires a change in the scope-of-work. The Legislative Project/Accounting Manager is tasked with submitting the finalized package of exhaustive paperwork to the Public Education Department in Santa Fe for approval. When the letter of approval is received, it is forwarded to the M&O Support Services Manager/staff to begin the purchase order process so the work can begin. It is a year-round obligation. While contractors are bidding on projects, M&O is starting the new paperwork for next year’s legislative requests (currently over 100).

Projects range from $35,000 to $200,000 each in cost and most recently have been used to remodel libraries; purchase new playground equipment, outdoor shade structures, benches, and tables; build or upgrade running tracks and other athletic spaces; resurface asphalt; and erosion control. New playground equipment for elementary schools dominated the Playground Equipment Shop Supervisor’s time in 2015-16. While M&O has found it challenging to fit in the time to manage these projects, it is greatly appreciative of the school improvements. M&O continues to perform thousands of routine and PM work while also managing these legislative funded projects.

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