Some East Mountain residents could pay for hospital they’ll likely never use


In the East Mountains, there’s a portion of Sandoval County that often gets overlooked.

“The people from the forgotten side of the mountain,” said Kathy Cooper.  

Cooper said for about eight years, Sandoval County residents were paying taxes on the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, and that didn’t sit well with people living in that section of the East Mountains.

“Because of where we live, we’re approximately an hour, an hour and 15 minutes away from that facility,” said Cooper. 

Now the hospital wants residents to pay up again, this time for an expansion.

“It’s a little over $6 million a year,” said Jamie Silva-Steele, Sandoval Regional Medical Center CEO, at a county commission meeting last week. 

At the meeting, she asked commissioners to approve an eight-year mill levy of $62 a year for every $100,000 a home is worth.

“That levy is going to support our increased behavioral services in the county and also trauma care in the county. Those are two really critical areas that are really in need in Sandoval County,” said Alex Sanchez, UNM Health Sciences Center.  

Not surprisingly, people in the Rio Rancho area are in support of the additions.

“Our pockets are a little tight right now, but for that, I think it’s very very important,” said Joe Ingoglia.

However, one of the first questions CEO Silva-Steele heard at that meeting was about the “forgotten side of the mountain.”

“We have a segment of District 1 that cannot make use of that facility, the communities on the east side of the mountain,” said County Commissioner James Holden-Rhodes. 

UNM staff understands the concern, but still defends the levy. 

“I certainly understand where people say maybe I don’t live there, I wouldn’t frequent it, but you never know what can happen,” said Sanchez. 

The public is invited to weigh  in at a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Vista Grande Community Center at 6:30 p.m.   

If the commissioners approve the mill levy, it will head to the voters on the November ballot.  

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