On February 8, 2019, the Mayor Tim Keller Administration submitted to the Albuquerque City Council the “2019 Decade Plan and General Obligation Bond Program”.
The released “2019 Decade Plan” lists over $800 million worth of taxpayer funded bond projects for the next 10 years but all the funding is not voted upon at once but voted upon in increments every two years.
You can read the entire 147 page “2019 Decade Plan and General Obligation Bond Program” here:
“General obligation” bonds are subject to voter approval every 2 years to fund various city capital projects.
The next bond cycle up for voter approval is in November, 2019.
$127 million in projects that are part of the Decade Plan will be on the November ballot for final voter approval.
A few of the largest Keller Administration projects in the latest bond proposal included:
$13 million toward the historic Rail Yards property through 2029.
$11 million for various projects at the Albuquerque Museum over the next decade.
$7 million to a new APD southeast substation at Kathryn and San Mateo.
$7 million for a year-round homeless facility.
$5.5 million for the International District Library.
$5 million in funding for Family & Community Services Section 8 Affordable Housing.
$2.8 million for Community, Health, Social Services Centers.
$2.5 million for a new exit off I-25 to Balloon Fiesta Park.
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COUNCIL’S SUBSTITUTE VERSION
A substitute version of the Keller Administration November, 2019 bond package has now been introduced by the city council containing a number of major changes.
The City Council’s major changes include:
1. The Council slashes Keller’s request of $7 million for a permanent homeless shelter by $4 million and allots $3 million. Keller has said that the homeless shelter is one of the city’s most pressing needs and he is also seeking capital outlay funding from the New Mexico legislature.
2. Eliminating the $2.5 million for a new exit off I-25 to Balloon Fiesta Park. Mayor Keller considers this a major investment that will eliminate common traffic congestion during the balloon fiesta.
3. The council plan designates $7.8 million for a pair of storm drainage and pump station projects compared with Keller’s $2.8 million. According to City Council Isaac Benton, the increased funding for a new storm water detention pond and pump station at Marble and Arno is a longtime need that has taken a hit too many times in the past.
4. The council plan quadruples the line item for Albuquerque Fire Rescue vehicles to $4 million.
5. The council plan proposes $9 million for projects not on the mayor’s list including:
$1.7 million for a North Domingo Baca swimming pool
$1.5 million for a Westside Indoor Sports Complex
$1 million Cibola Loop library and
$1 million a West Central Visitor Center
In responding to the City Council’s substitute measure, Mayor Keller had this to say:
“It’s a little unfortunate, but there’s plenty of time left on the clock [to negotiate a compromise].”
The ultimate decision as to what will be placed on the ballot rests with the City Council.
Hearing and meetings will be held by the Albuquerque Council’s “Committee of the Whole”, comprised of all 9 City Councilor’s, to negotiate a compromise between the council’s version and the Mayor’s version of the capital outlay program to be submitted to voters for approval.
The City Council has scheduled a final vote next month for the capital program.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It is truly amazing how Mayor Tim Keller expressed a degree of disappointment and surprise by how the City Council is not going along with him on how to spend the $127 million in bond monies and what should be submitted for a public vote for approval.
The disagreement is a clear reflection of the differences between what Mayor Keller thinks is a priority to the city and what the city council thinks is important to them and their council districts.
Keller thinks a homeless shelter, clean up of the rail yards and an off ramp for the balloon fiesta park is important while the city council thinks storm drainage, swimming pools and sports complexes are important for their districts.
Seven of the 9 existing City Councilors are the same fools that voted to fund the disastrous $130 ART Bus Project as well as their own pet capital projects with the use of revenue bonds.
On January 2, 2017 the Albuquerque Journal reported that the Albuquerque City Council, including Democrats Pat Davis, Diane Gibson, Ike Benton, Ken Sanchez and Republicans Don Harris, Brad Winter, and Trudy Jones voted to borrow over $63 million dollars over two years using revenue bonds to build pickle ball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing the voters.
The $65 million dollars was borrowed with the Albuquerque City Councilors voting to use revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects they wanted.
There’s no need for an election if seven of nine councilors agree to authorize the use of revenue bonds.
You can read the full story here:
The 7 City Councilors who care less what voters really have to say are Democrats Pat Davis, Diane Gibson, Ike Benton, Ken Sanchez and Republicans Don Harris, Brad Winter, and Trudy Jones.
Having a central homeless shelter run by the city is long overdue and should be on the ballot for approval.
The number of homeless in Albuquerque continues to rise each year and at any given time the city has about 2,500 chronic homeless.
It is likely that a permanent shelter will have a real impact on removing a good portion of the homeless from the streets
Keller’s administration has also sought state capital outlay funding for many of the same projects with Keller expressing hope that the Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will see them as “statewide” priorities worthy of large allocations so there may not be a need to include them in the bond package, but do not hold your breath on that one.
Albuquerque notoriously comes out on the short end when it comes state capital outlay projects.
Democrat Mayor Keller does possess line-item veto power and the Democrat controlled Council needs 6 of 9 members to override any such veto.
However, the Democrat controlled city council easily overrode Democrat Mayor Tim Keller when in came to the “Top Golf” incentive funding.
Mayor Tim Keller is about to learn another lesson the hard way that no matter how much he he talks to the city council with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice and is friendly to councilors, the City Council controls the purse strings and the council usually gets what it wants.