San Miguel County has advertised that it wants to purchase land to set up a road materials plant, but so far, it has had no takers.
On Tuesday, the County Commission authorized county staff to contact property owners with land that is conducive to a rock-crushing operation.
A couple of years ago, County Commissioner David Salazar came up with the idea for such a plant. He said he was frustrated with the limited number of roads the county could improve each year, saying he felt as if the county was “spinning its wheels.”
He suggested the county could save money by setting up its own road materials plant, rather than relying on the private sector.
At Tuesday’s commission meeting, Commissioner Hugh Ley worried that a public search for land may result in inflated prices.
However, County Attorney Jesus Lopez said such property would have to be appraised first. He said the state wouldn’t allow the county to pay more than the appraised value. That’s because giving more than that amount would be essentially violating the state constitution’s anti-donation clause, which bars public money from going toward private purposes.
Lopez also noted that the County Commission can negotiate with landowners in a closed session, so the county keeps its bargaining power.
Ley said he was surprised no one answered the county’s request for proposals.
Both Ley and Commissioner Kenny Medina agreed to join a committee to take part in the process of approaching landowners.