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City Council holds budget hearing without Socorro mayor

In the next couple of weeks, Socorro City Council will finalize its city budget for the 2012-2013 budget.

During a meeting on Tuesday, City Council members said Mayor Trini Lopez walked out of the meeting.

Lopez said those are false statements.

He adjourned the meeting because he doesn’t agree with the times and dates changed of the meetings.

Spokesman for Socorro, Dave Garcia, said it is necessary to ensure the budget is finalized by the September 15 deadline.

“About a month ago, City Council recognized that this would be a long and arduous process, moved all the meetings to where we could work later and in a sequential time to post the agenda and get everything done by rule,” said Garcia.

But Lopez said the council is moving the meetings so they could make decisions without the public’s input.

Tuesday’s meeting was a public hearing for the city budget.

Lopez said there were no residents present because they were not aware of the changes to the meetings.

After Tuesday’s meeting was adjourned and Lopez left, Garcia said the council followed protocol to re-establish a meeting with the council members present.

According to the city attorney, the meeting is still valid and the council did not break any laws.

The City Council will continue to reschedule meetings if necessary to discuss a proposed tax hike that could affect homeowners.

Garcia said the council is proposing a $14.9 million budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

If approved homeowners expect to pay about 56 cents for each $100 of taxable value.

That is compared to last year’s 49 cents, a seven-cent increase.

If a home is valued at a $100,000 a homeowner would have to pay an extra $70.

Garcia said this is the first time in five years a tax hike is proposed for Socorro residents.

The next public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 11.

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