City of Jal, New Mexico Says Their Money Isn't Going to Waste

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

JAL, NEW MEXICO - Two Republicans in Congress are calling out Jal, New Mexico for having one the worst pork barrel projects.

They're pointing the finger because the city is set to get $400,000 to renovate an abandoned building, but officials in Jal say its not poor spending.

The old junior high in Jal doesn't look like much, but the old school may bring jobs to Jal and jolt the area's economy.

"I think it's a wonderful project," Mayor Alton Dunn, said. "It's going to be one of the best things going on around here."

The city is excited about plans to turn it into a flexible manufacturing facility.

So they weren't happy to hear some Washington politicians bashing their dream.

"It was foolish on their part because they didn't know the circumstances surrounding the building or the use of it," Alton said.

"I think one of the things we've been talking about nationwide," City Manager, Eva Sanchez-Bruce, said. "It's stimulating the economy and this project certainly does that because its creating jobs."

The project should retain 350 construction jobs and bring in 90 new jobs.

On top of that, the region plans to get more than 21 million dollars worth of tax revenue.

"In a rural community like Jal, we don't necessarily have all the dollars in our general fund to maintain our infrastructure; our water lines, our roads, our water distribution system," Sanchez-Bruce said. "I can tell you all of those projects are in need. We need funding for those projects and tax revenue is perfect for projects like that."

The money they get from the government won't even pay for half the cost to renovate the core and shell of the building, so local groups are helping out too.

Then the city will have big name tenants like Louisiana Energy Services will temporarily construct the interior.

"To diversify the economy and create the number of jobs that this project is going to," Sanchez-Bruce said. "It's going to have an impact now and in the future for Jal."

So to people in Jal, it's not wasteful spending but economic development.