BLOOMFIELD — During a special work session tonight at City Hall officials will discuss the possibility of expanding the city's borders.
"Were going to kill about five birds with one stone," City Manager David Fuqua said of possible property annexations. "This has to do with our master plan, our parks, our flood control, our growth and partially to do with the debate about Mancos Shale."
In the last census, Bloomfield was the fastest growing city in New Mexico, surging approximately 26 percent. But population growth could outpace the city's ability to provide infrastructure and resources if it doesn't plan its growth.
Fuqua cited the growing pains in Williston, N.D. -- a once quiet agricultural town that rapidly tripled in size after an oil boom 11 years ago -- as evidence for the need to protect the city against similar troubles.
"Williston's been through a lot. Their crime rate went up 1,200 percent. They had to actually borrow against recurring expenses, like payroll, which is not the way to run things," Fuqua said. "I doubt we're going to be like that, but with the likely boom in Mancos Shale that's expected ... in the next three or four years, I don't want us to look back and have regrets."
At the center of the council's discussion will be whether to file a petition with the state's Boundary Commission to increase the city's acreage, ideally expanding at each corner of the city limits.
Getting stuck with unexpected expenses not on the city's budget ranks high on the city manager's list of things to avoid should Bloomfield undergo a similar boom as new fracking technology combined with horizontal drilling allows companies to extract oil and gas from the San Juan Basin's Mancos shale formation.
Bloomfield already is contending with a surprise bill for moving utility lines last year when the state began widening and redesigning U.S. Highway 64, the main east-west road that bisects the town.
"I don't want to overreact, but I don't want to under-react like Williston did," Fuqua said. "I want us to be secure going forward, to be on the safe side by passing ordinances and rules that control the growth instead of just letting things happen. It's just planning, protecting our borders. That's one of the key functions of the city, to maintain growth and ensure the health of its citizens."
The public is invited to attend and comment at the special meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 915 N. First St. For more information, call 505-632-6300.