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Economy

Socorro Considers Legislative Lobbyist

Mountain Mail of Socorro, New Mexico

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SOCORRO - The City Council's Budget Committee met Wednesday and decided to recommend that a lobbyist not be hired for the upcoming legislative session, but that money be earmarked for the following year.

The issue came up after Councilor Michael Olguin Jr. made that proposal at Monday night's council meeting. At the council meeting Olguin recommended paying that person $5,000 for the 30-day session.

"It's basically a lobbyist. The proposed fee of $5,000 would be for the entire legislative session, including committee hearings," Olguin said. "The city needs this because it s good to have first-hand knowledge of what s going on in Santa Fe.

"For example, if it's necessary for the mayor or any other city official to be there, the [lobbyist] would make sure he is aware of it," he said. "Names for the position could be submitted to the mayor, who could then contact that person.

Councilor Gordy Hicks agreed that in light of budget cuts in Santa Fe, a representative may be needed for the session.

"In today's times with things getting cut at the state level, we need a specialist," Hicks said. "Where'd you come up with that $5,000 figure? I just want to make sure we're not putting too much (money) out there, or not enough."

Mayor Ravi Bhasker also had money concerns.

"This sort of thing is not in our approved budget, plus the council would have to have a list of what we want this person to look at, and not just take a $5,000 check [to be there]," Bhasker said.

"It must be only approved by the council as a whole, since we're spending the city's money on this," Councilor Donald Monette said.

City Clerk Pat Salome said the council needs "to look at who we want to hire, and then what we want them to look at during the legislative session."

Councilor Mary Ann Chavez-Lopez suggested making inquiries to other municipalities on "how much they were spending on lobbyists."

The Budget Committee, headed by Monette, recommended that the issue be studied further, and that a designated fee would be part of die annual budget.

The committee will submit its complete report at the next city council meeting, Jan. 19.

The legislative session also starts Jan. 19.



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Original Publication Date: January 7, 2010



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