Letter: Securing Bloomfield's future

Eric Strahl
The Daily Times

Contrary to recent misinformation, the City of Bloomfield is lawfully moving to acquire electric utility assets within its boundaries in order to form its own electric utility.

The 1960 Culpepper case established our legal right to acquire. It declared that, while Farmington may have operating rights to the utility system, both Aztec and Bloomfield have the right to acquire the "entire properties" within their respective boundaries. Aztec exercised this very right in 1963. Over 2,000 communities nationwide, including Gallup, Raton, Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the Navajo Nation, successfully run their own electric utilities, so this is hardly unusual.

We recognize Farmington significantly invested in the electric system in Bloomfield over time, which is why we wish to negotiate a fair price for those assets. With fairness in mind, we requested information from Farmington to develop a detailed, system inventory. We hired an independent appraiser to determine the fair market value of those assets.

Annually Bloomfield's residents and businesses generate approximately $1 million in surplus that is added to Farmington's General Fund. These monies fund projects (Ricketts Park, Pinon Hills Golf Course, Riverwalk, etc.) that improve Farmington's quality of life. We seek the opportunity to use surplus funds generated by Bloomfield to support needed projects in Bloomfield, thus empowering Bloomfield's residents to take control of their future.

Last year we initiated a good-faith effort to negotiate with Farmington, attempting to avoid burdening taxpayers with a costly, legal battle. When our efforts were rebuked, we were forced to file a lawsuit. We are committed to determining whether Bloomfield will have its own, electric utility by following a thorough, methodical process that adheres to the letter of the law. This takes time, but we are determined to get it right.

Based on past court decisions and Aztec's continued acquisition of electric utility assets as the community expands, we believe there is no question regarding Bloomfield's legal right to purchase and maintain all of the electric utility assets within its boundaries.

We want to make the best decision for Bloomfield's future.