The 2019 Legislature that just ended March enacted a $7.6 billion state budget, the largest budget ever enacted in state history.
Financial stress over the budget was greatly reduced from years past because nearly $2 Billion in additional revenue generated by the Southern New Mexico oil boom and increased royalties filled the state coffers.
The legislature appropriated $933 million for infrastructure projects such as road and bridge repairs.
State agencies had submitted a total of $543.4 million in requests.
Requests for senior citizen facilities totaled $28.7 million, and requests higher education institutions, special and tribal schools totaled $125.6 million, for a grand total of $697.7 million to address statewide needs.
The approved budget includes $380 million allocated to lawmakers to spend in their individual districts at their discretion.
The New Mexico legislature consists of a total 70 representatives and 42 senators.
Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have the largest delegation in the New Mexico Legislature.
In years past years, Albuquerque has not done very well when asking for funding for special projects for the city, especially during the last 8 years under former Republican Governor “SHE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED”.
ALBQUERQUE FARES WELL IN 2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
With the election of Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as Democrats seizing control of the New Mexico House or Representatives, the City did a lot better, especially having a Democratic Governor who use to represent the city in the United States Congress.
New Mexico’s budget surplus of $2 Billion no doubt also contributed to the funding of projects in Albuquerque.
During last year’s 2018 session, only $39 million was secured for city projects
This year, the Albuquerque and the Bernalillo county delegation to the legislature was able to secure $63.7 million in funding for Albuquerque projects or an impressive $24.7 million more than last year.
Approximately $54 million of the $63.7 million is earmarked for city government facilities, infrastructure and equipment.
The remaining $9.7 million is earmarked for items such as little league fields and museums in the Albuquerque area such as the Natural History Museum.
More than 100 projects in Albuquerque are included in the Legislature’s capital outlay bill.
Following is a small breakdown of the state funded earmarked projects for the city:
Upgrading the first responder communication network (911 Emergency Communications Center) : $16.8 million
Traffic mitigation efforts around Balloon Fiesta Park including a new ramp onto Interstate 25: $7.5 million
Albuquerque Rail Yards redevelopment: $7.5 million
Albuquerque Fire Rescue vehicles, protective gear and station upgrades: $5 million
West Side Albuquerque sports complex: $1.8 million
Funding for Albuquerque Police Department DNA testing and technology: $4 million
Funding for 14 different little league projects: $2 million
Construction funding for the city’s International District Library: $1.9 million
Funding to the Albuquerque Holocaust & Intolerance Museum: $823,898
Funding for the City/County “Tiny Home Village”: $595,000
Construction Funding for a “bocce court” at North Domingo Baca Park: $147,400
Funding for public murals: $135,000
Funding for a Sandia Vista dog park $70,000
Construction funding for a centralized, 24/7 homeless shelter: $985,000
The amount secured for the homeless shelter was disappointing seeing as the cost of the centralized, 24/7 homeless shelter is projected to be $28 million.
The City officials say $14 million is needed to complete at least the shelter’s first phase and the city intends to seek funding for the shelter in the November general obligation bond request that must be approved by voters.
NOVEMBER 2019 CITY GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND ELECTION
The next city general obligation bond cycle up for voter approval is on November 5, 2019.
A total of $127 million in projects will be on the November ballot for voter approval.
The $63.7 million in funding allocated by the 2019 New Mexico legislature for Albuquerque capital projects will allow the city considerable leeway in what voters will be asked to fund with general obligation bonds on November 5, 2019.
A few of the largest Keller Administration projects in the latest bond proposal include:
$13 million toward the historic Rail Yards property through 2029. (NOTE: The legislature funded $7.5 million for the rail yards.)
$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. (NOTE: the legislature funded $985,000)
$5.5 million for the International District Library. (NOTE: The legislature funded $1.9 million for the 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. (NOTE: The legislature funded $7.5 million for the new ramp onto Interstate 25)
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COUNCIL’S SUBSTITUTE VERSION
A substitute version of the Keller Administration November, 2019 bond package was introduced by the city council containing a number of major changes.
The City Council’s major changes include:
1.The Council slashed the Keller Administration’s request of $7 million for a permanent homeless shelter by $4 million and allotted $3 million A substitute version of the bond package introduced by City Council budget chair Trudy Jones raised it to $14 million.
2. The Council eliminated the $2.5 million for a new exit off I-25 to Balloon Fiesta Park but the 2019 legislature funded $7.5 million for the new ramp onto Interstate 25.
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.
4. The council plan quadruples the line item for Albuquerque Fire Rescue vehicles to $4 million. The 2019 New Mexico legislature allocated $5 million for Albuquerque Fire Rescue vehicles, protective gear and station upgrades
5. The council plan proposes $9 million for projects not on the Keller Administration proposed bond package 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
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
As the saying goes, Albuquerque is the economic engine for the State of New Mexico.
Concentration on capital improvement projects and infra structure needs are always a major need of a growing city and an investment in the entire state economy.
State investment in city projects and city general obligation bond funded capital projects need to always enhance each other in order to get a better return on investment and stretched resources.
The ultimate decision as to what will be placed on the November General Obligation Bond ballot rests exclusively with the Albuquerque City Council.
Hearings 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.
No doubt the city council must now consider the $63.7 million in additional funding from the 2019 New Mexico legislature for Albuquerque projects and make changes to the General Obligation bond ballot measures.
The City Council and the Mayor would be wise to approach individual State Representatives and Senators and discuss what capital projects in their districts they may be willing to help fund with their allotment of the $380 million given to lawmakers to spend in their individual districts at their discretion.
The City Council should recognize and thank Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as the 2019 New Mexico Legislature for their help and financing of major Albuquerque capital projects.