Editorial: Another year of public projects

There are not many years we can say the amount of public construction projects surpasses private building, but this year looks like it will be one of those times. This is not necessarily a good thing.

We thought 2009 was the year of public projects but 2010 will be even bigger in our area’s towns and villages, especially Angel Fire, Eagle Nest and Cimarron. We’re talking about roads, water lines, utilities and ball fields. It’s remarkable that grants and stimulus money are coming in and our local governments can afford the required matching funds. We’re afraid that if they didn’t have the money up front, they would have lost out. With construction in the private sector down, it’s good we are seeing more public projects.

That means jobs, gross receipt taxes for our municipal coffers, and improvements to our communities’ infrastructure. In Angel Fire the massive public improvement district (PID) project will resume for a full construction season. The $25 million project will provide taxes and jobs. Its workers will have to find housing, food and fuel in Angel Fire so we all benefit from the work being done.

No one wants to be dependent on government projects, but in a time when construction is down, it helps to keep us stable. We welcome public works, but we believe more needs to be done to boost private construction. Now is the time for our area towns and villages to be looking at ways to keep our local contractors working.

One way would be to educate them on the bidding and bonding processes required to land government projects. Another way would be to subsidize workforce housing projects in our area. Local people could be hired to do the work.

Our towns and villages have plenty of land where workforce housing could be built. They need to explore all options and programs before they dry up. Why not start looking for ways to improve the downturn in private construction and at the same time solve another issue in the process?