May 2 First News: Santa Fe wants to collect unpaid water bills. (listen)

Santa Fe has more than a half-million dollars in unpaid water bills, and plans are developing to collect it.  City council's Public Utilities Committee has begun looking at options. An ordinance on the books allows the city to disconnect delinquent customers after 90 days but procedures for doing it are not clear. The New Mexican reports that the city of Rio Rancho begins taking steps to cut off delinquent customers after two to three weeks.

Commissioners of Mora County, just north of Santa Fe, have voted to become the first county in the nation to enact a complete ban oil and gas development.  Commission chairman John Olivas says the move reflects what voters want. ***  Olivas says the new ordinance has not yet been challenged by the oil and gas industry.

A newly released federal report on unemployment shows that the jobless rate in New Mexico dropped slightly in March from the year before.  The Labor Department report says the jobless rate for Santa Fe dropped to 5.4 percent from 6 percent last year.  It also says the state added 3,800 jobs over the 12-month period.  

New water restrictions are in effect in Santa Fe as the city enters a third year of drought after the two driest and hottest years on record.  City water managers say Santa Feans can only water 3 times a week and never between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Among other restrictions in place until further notice is the requirement of a permit for all new irrigation system installations. Vehicle washing at residences is limited to just once a month. Those who violate the water-use rules can be fined up to $200 with the fines applied to water bills.

The Santa Fe Farmers Market plans to move outside for the summer this weekend. Starting Saturday, vendors will be selling their products both inside and outside the market, located at the Railyard.  The event will be marked by a May Day celebration for children.  

A Pojoaque Valley High School teacher has been arraigned on felony sex charges after admitting to having sexual contact with one of her male students. 31-year-old Jennifer Vigil says the contact was consensual between her and the 18 year old boy, though the student says otherwise. Despite his age, state law makes it illegal for teachers to engage in sexual conduct with students. Vigil is being held without bond in county jail.

Santa Fe Police say they arrested a homeless man on charges of breaking into a Canyon Road home on two occasions, using the residence for overnight shelter and showering. 44-year-old Moses Gold caused about $800 in damages. The property is used as a summer home by its owner and police say such crimes can be averted by having an effective Neighborhood Watch program.

The National Interagency Fire Center is out with a new report with dire predictions of significant wildfire risk for much of New Mexico this month and next. They note that much of the southwest has precipitation totals at only 25% of seasonal averages. That, they say, means fires are expected to develop earlier in the season. The report goes on to say that the risk will diminish in July as the summer monsoon is expected to develop in timely fashion this year.

Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny and much cooler than recent days with a high only in the low 50s. Clear and cold tonight with a low in the upper 20s. Sunny tomorrow with highs in the upper 50s.