The Senate passed the bill, which would allow communities to contract water tank maintenance to private companies, on a 39 to 0 vote on Feb. 8.
"In essence, it clears up a logistical problem," said Neville, an Aztec Republican. "Sometimes (tank maintenance) is cost prohibitive."
Senate Bill 93 — titled "City Water Storage Tank Contractors" — allows communities to hire a contractor to do the work over multiple years. This lowers maintenance costs for cities by spreading out payments over the course of the contract, much like making car payments.
Farmington stands among a handful of cities statewide that contract for routine maintenance on water infrastructure, said Bill Standley, Farmington mayor from 1998 to 2010.
He brought the issue to Neville's attention.
"Some cities don't have (a contractor), so they have to go out for a bond, or go through the New Mexico Finance Authority, which is pretty much out of money," Standley said. "This way they can have ongoing maintenance rather than letting (tanks) deteriorate."
Out of the 110 cities in the state, only about 12 contract for their water maintenance, he said.
Although all cities can contract out through the public bid process, the option is often too expensive, he said.
A recently completed five-year water-tank refurbishment contract with CH2M HILL OMI cost Farmington $4.5 million dollars, said City Manager Rob Mayes.
The contract allowed the city to pay for the project over the duration of the contract rather than all at once, he said.
The bill has passed through committees and is awaiting approval of a companion bill the House of Representatives.
Neville said he tried to get it passed last year, but had only 30 days during the legislative session and ran out of time. He does not anticipate any roadblocks to getting the bill passed this year.