BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – Residents in Belen might notice something big and new in city hall — a $50,000 video screen they helped pay for, perhaps without knowing it.
“You’ve got basically a $50,000 big screen TV sitting on the wall in the council chamber,” said Mayor Jerah Cordova.
Mayor Cordova is upset about the new video wall.
“It’s a big screen. It certainly does what it’s intended to do, but the cost is too much,” he said.
City Councilor Frank Ortega defends the purchase saying it’s much more than a TV.
“If you have people like myself, near sighted, they can actually project our minutes up there. They can project any information they need,” said Ortega. “Everybody is going to be at advantage. We could use it for training. For example, emergency operations centers.”
The video screen was approved by the IT Committee in 2014. The money for the screen comes from the TIF account where residents have to pay a monthly fee of $1.80.
So how do residents feel?
“There are roads out here that are just bad. That’s something that I drive, I’m never going to watch those screens. I’m never going to see it. Me personally, I think it’s a waste,” said Malcom Rivera, a resident of Belen.
The mayor says the bottom line is, the video screen didn’t need to cost $50,000.
“I think we could’ve put $1,000 into a nice projector and screen and gotten the same effect,” said Mayor Cordova.
Ortega says he’s surprised by the Mayor’s criticism.
“I don’t recall him opposing of it. Each department had a chance to talk to the mayor and the council, they felt that this was a needed that we needed in the board room,” said Ortega.
The mayor disputes that version of events, saying the screen was never formally presented to anyone but the committee, which he is not on. According to the mayor, there needs to be some change.
“I’m not entirely happy with the way the committee is structured so I’m hoping that we can have a little more oversight,” said Mayor Cordova.
The mayor thinks a solution is requiring full city council approval on items on this, to allow for more transparency. The committee itself can decide how it spends that TIF money.
The video screen has been up for a few months. The mayor says he’s tried to have it taken down and adding screens at different community centers around the city.
He says committee members want it to stay as is.