May 8 First News: SF City Manager Robert Romero to retire. (listen)

Another departure has been announced at Santa Fe city hall.  City Manager Robert Romero says he plans to retire from his $128,000-a-year job. His announcement comes just days after Mayor David Coss said he would not seek a third term in office. Romero has been with city government for 13 years. The mayor says he believes Romero will stay on the job until the March 2014 city elections.

Santa Fe City Hall will vote tonight on the proposed city budget for fiscal year 2014. As prepared by the Finance Committee, the budget provides no wage increases and would eliminate some city jobs that are currently vacant. Meanwhile, the City says there will be no changes in operating hours or cuts in services to the La Farge Branch of the Santa Fe Public Library. There had been discussion of closing the facility one day a week.

A Santa Fe judge has approved a financial settlement in the case of drunk-driving crash that left a 4-year-old girl dead and members of her family injured. The judge agreed that terms of the settlement would be confidential. Deborah Aaron of Santa Fe had already pleaded guilty to drunk driving.  Vehicular homicide charges against her had been dropped.

New Mexico's Spaceport has an important new tenant in SpaceX. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport  to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. Dubbed "Grasshopper", it will return to its launch pad intact in a vertical landing.

Albuquerque shut off its redlight camera ticketing program two years ago but citations issued before that are still valid and must be paid.  That's the assertion of the Duke City's legal department, in opposition to an opinion voiced by a state district court judge who said such claims are usually invalid after four years.  Today's Albuquerque Journal reports that some 81,000 license plate numbers have been turned over to credit bureaus by the Redflex traffic company that operated and enforced the camera citation program. That's in an effort to collect about $21 million in unpaid tickets.

At the Albuquerque Sunport today, the New Mexico National Guard will welcome home 27 soldiers who are returning from a nine month deployment to Sinai, Egypt. Their peace-keeping mission there had them providing logistical support to other US soldiers, overseeing medical and aviation operations as well as disposal of explosive ordnance materials.

Drought and extreme fire danger have already forced both Santa Fe city and county to enact fire- restriction regulations. Come Saturday, similar rules go into effect on Bureau of Land Management public lands in 16 counties, comprising the Las Cruces and Pecos districts. No burning activity can occur outside of developed campsite and picnic areas and smoking is banned unless inside a vehicle or building.

Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny today and tomorrow with highs in the mid 60s. A 10% chance for an afternoon shower today becomes 20% Thursday, increasing to 40% tomorrow evening. Overnight lows in the low 40s.