Proposed tax hike in Belen would improve decades-old building

Politics - Government

BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Belen is asking people there for a tax hike to fix up the 120-year-old police station. The department said it’s a pressing issue saying the building is falling apart and needs $2.5 million to fix it all.

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An old building a couple of blocks off Main Street in Belen has had a lot of lives in its 121-year-old history. From wool, lumber and banking, to a firehouse before the city turned it into a police station 30 years ago. “We’ve had issues through the building in rooms that were not usable For example, in this particular room, the adobe walls which were a couple of feet thick, were actually caving in and falling onto the room and they had to be short up and re-sheet rocked and had new frame walls put up around it,” said Sgt. Mario Vallejos, the administrative detective with BPD.

With wear and tear throughout the facility and a lackluster electrical system, Vallejos says it’s making it difficult for officers to do their jobs. “If we’re not set up and ready to operate within this facility where we can bring in that type of staff all the time and be able to work within the facility, then we’re not able to respond to the public the best that we can,” Vallejos said.

It’s not just structural damage and cramped quarters, the department’s 24 officers and staff members at the facility have to deal with. “Issues that we have through the building is, it has really bad plumbing issues, we have tons of backups and so on and so forth. We have the black mold issues that we’ve had to move our command staff out of certain areas in the building because it’s a health issue,” Vallejos said.

Now, the city is asking its voters to sign off on a property tax hike to raise $2.5 million to give the building an extensive makeover with an eye on the future. The property hike tax would amount to anywhere from $3 to $5 a month for most homes. The election is Tuesday, November 2.

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