On April 1, the Mayor Tim Keller Administration released the 2022-2023 annual budget that once enacted by the city council will be for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2022 and will end June 30, 2023.
The link to the proposed 244-page 2022-2023 budget it here:
In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal editors on the proposed budget, Mayor Tim Keller said the budget is actually a “pretty bland” proposal that covers the necessary bases without introducing many new elements. Keller is quoted as saying:
“I don’t think there’s anything in here that is a particular surprise … It’s not like we have some massive announcements.”
The link to the full Journal article quoted entitled “Keller releases $1.4B budget proposal” is here:
It’ s clear from review of the 2022-2023 proposed budget that it is far from being bland as Keller suggests. It contains line items that Keller no doubt does not want to make major announcements on, or being confronted with, by the public or for that matter the press. This blog article is an in-depth review of the budget with major highlights on line-item spending.
The overall budget submitted for review and approval of the Albuquerque City council is for $1.4 Billion. $841.8 represents the general fund spending and it is an increase of $127 million, or 17.8%, over the current year’s budget of $1.2 Billion. The general fund provides funding for city essential and basic services such as police protection, fire protection, the bus system, solid waste collection and disposal, the zoo, aquarium, the city’s museums maintenance, city libraries, the bus system, senior and community centers, swimming pools and parks and road maintenance. According to the proposed 2022-2023 budget, in 2021 the city had 6,536 full time employees and under the proposed budget will have 6,916 for an increase of 380 full time positions or a 5.8% increase.
The increase includes $107.8 million in Gross Receipts Tax (GRT), $3.5 million in property tax, $7.2 million in other taxes, $3.1 million in enterprise revenue, and $57.8 million in inter-fund and fund balances. Gross Receipts Tax (GRT), enterprise revenues, and property taxes together make up 61% of the City’s total revenues. GRT is the City’s major source of revenue and is estimated at $529.7 million or 38% of total resources for fiscal year 2023. Property Tax comprises 12.4% of total revenue. The various enterprises operated by the City are estimated to generate 10.6% of total revenue in fiscal year 2023.
The 2022-2023 proposed budget includes $13 million for a city-wide 2% cost-of-living increase for the city workforce which is subject to negotiations for union positions. According to the 2021 enacted budget, the City of Albuquerque employs 6,259 full time employees. The link to the enacted 2021-2022 budget is here:
LARGEST DEPARTMENT BUDGETS AND INCREASES
There are 28 city departments. The Police Department and the Fire and Rescue Department are the two largest departments for City operating appropriations, primarily due to their large workforces. The two departments together comprise 26.8% of the total fund appropriations of $1.4 billion and 43.1% of the General Fund appropriations of $841.8 million in fiscal year 2022-2023.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The postscript to this blog article contains budget information other city departments.
ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) continues to be the largest city budget out of 27 departments. The fiscal year 2023 proposed General Fund budget is $255.4 million, which represents an increase of 14.7% or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level.
The fiscal year 2022-2023 proposed General Fund budget for APD is $255.4 million, which represents an increase of 14.7% or $32.8 million above the FY/22 level. The proposed General Fund civilian count is 665 and sworn count is 1,100 for a total of 1,765 full-time positions.
APD’s general fund budget of $255.4 provides funding for 1,100 full time sworn police officers, with the department fully funded for 1,100 sworn police for the past 3 years. However, there are currently 888 sworn officers in APD. The APD budget provides funding for 1,100 in order to accommodate growth.
The APD budget is increased to accommodate for an immediate 8% in police pay and another 5% in police pay to begin in July because of the new police union contract.
The APD budget provides for a net total increase of $1.2 million in overtime pay to accommodate the police union contract hourly rate increase that went into effect on January 1, 2022.
In fiscal year 2022, a memorandum of understating agreement was approved increasing the hourly rate of pay for 911 operators in an effort to retain emergency service operators and offer a competitive wage for a total personnel cost of $737 thousand.
Technical adjustments include funding of $6.4 million for a 5% increase in hourly wages and longevity for sworn officers in accordance to year two of the approved police union contract and 2% Cost of Living Adjustments for civilian positions, subject to negotiations for positions associated with a union. An adjustment of $2.6 million for health benefits, insurance administration, life insurance and 0.5% State mandated Public Employees Retirement increase for the employer’s share.
A net total increase of $1.2 million in overtime is included for the APOA hourly rate increase that went into effect January 1, 2022. In fiscal year 2022, 63 full-time civilian positions were added at a total cost of $4.9 million including benefits and reduction of $134 thousand in contractual services for a net cost of $4.7 million to support the daily operations and/or compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
APD ARRESTS WENT DOWN, AGAIN
APD statistics for the city budget years of 2019 and 2020 confirm that APD was not as “aggressive and proactive” doing its job of investigating and arresting people.
APD felony arrests went down from 2019 to 2020 by 39.51% going down from 10,945 to 6,621. Misdemeanor arrests went down by 15% going down from 19,440 to 16,520. DWI arrests went down from 1,788 in 2019 to 1,230 in 2020, down 26%. The total number of all arrests went down from 32,173 in 2019 to 24,371 in 2020 or by 25%.
The 2023 proposed budget released on April 1, 2022, contains APD arrest statistics and performance measures. Following are the statistics reported in the budget for 2020 and 2021:
The number of actual violent crimes in 2020 reported and investigated by APD was 6,685 and in 2021 the number increased to 7,073.
The number of actual property crimes reported and investigated by APD in 2020 was 32,135 and the number dropped dramatically in 2021 to 8,972.
APD made 10,945 felony arrests in 2020 and the number of felony arrests dropped to 6,621 in 2021.
APD made 19,440 misdemeanor arrests in 2020 and misdemeanor arrest dropped to 16,520 in 2021.
APD made 1,788 DWI arrests in 2020 and in 2021 DWI arrests dropped to 1,230.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLIANCE
The Fiscal Year 2023 budget contains a line-item budget of $22,094,000 for the Office of the Superintendent of Police Reform. At the end of December, Superintendent of Police Reform Sylvester Stanly “retired” after a mere 8 months on the job and a national search is being conducted to find a replacement. The city is advertising the position with pay to be $150,000 to $180,000 depending upon experience.
Included in the 2022-2023 budget is funding of $1.6 million for the Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor assigned to audit APD’s progress in implementing the Court Approve settlement agreement. There is also an increase in one-time funding of $2.6 million for the Use of Force Contract, which is funding for 24 outside investigators hired on contract and assigned to the External Use of Force Investigation Team (EFIT) which investigates police use of force cases.
The EFIT has now been assigned with the task of the investigation of a backlog 660 sworn police use of force cases that APD was highly criticized by the Federal Monitor for its failure.
The budget also funds the CNM Academy and there is 33% increase in funding for the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, as a result of granting all requested increases to the CPOA budget.
In fiscal year 2022, 63 full-time civilian positions were added at a total cost of $4.9 million including benefits and reduction of $134 thousand in contractual services for a net cost of $4.7 million to support the daily operations and/or compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
The fiscal year 2023 proposed budget includes an additional 17 fulltime positions at a total cost of $1.4 million including benefits for 9 full-time positions for the internal affairs department, two victim advocates, three violent crime analysts, one investigative liaison to assist in non-critical tasks for homicide detectives, one fiscal program manager and one purchasing coordinator to support the daily operations of the fiscal department. There is funding of $46 thousand for one part-time crime stoppers assistant liaison position.
ALBUQUERQUE FIRE RESCUE
The Fire and Rescue Department (AFR) is the second-largest city department with funding at $107.6 million and reflects an increase of 11.6% or $11.2 million above the fiscal year 2022 original budget. The budget contains funding of $1.4 million for a 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). In fiscal year 2021, AFR was budgeted for 781 full time positions and in the 2023, AFR is budgeted for 812 full time positions.
AFR and the Fire Marshal’s office are involved with code enforcement actions against substandard or vacant commercial and residential properties and the “Addressing Dilapidated and Abandoned Property Team” (ADAPT program.) AFR is also involved with the “Humane and Ethical Animal Regulations and Treatment (HEART)” Ordinance for frequent 9-1-1 callers.
Within the AFR budget, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is funded. OEM assisted with the city’s response to the pandemic, activating volunteers and City workers on everything from the distribution of protective equipment to operating points of dispensation to get the vaccine to thousands of Albuquerque residents. The Fiscal Year 2023 budget for AFR creates 29 additional firefighter positions, most of them to improve response in high-volume areas. The AFR budget includes $1.4 million to send current AFR employees to paramedic school while maintaining proper staffing levels, and $2.4 million to increase call response capacity in high utilization areas.
ALBUQUERQUE COMMUNITY SAFETY DEPARTMENT
In fiscal year 2021, the Keller Administration created the Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS) with an initial budget of $2.5 million. The ACS consists of social workers and mental health care workers to deal with those suffering from a mental health crisis or drug addiction crisis and they are dispatched in lieu of sworn police or fire emergency medical paramedics.
The fiscal year 2022 budget for ACS was $7.7 million and the fiscal year 2023 proposed budget doubles the amount to $15.5 million to continue the service of responding to calls for service and perform outreach for inebriation, homelessness, addiction, and other issues that do not require police or EMT response.
The Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS) dispatches trained and unarmed professionals to respond to 9-1-1 calls that do not require a police or paramedic response. ACS is taking hundreds of calls per month, easing the burden on police and paramedics and improving outcomes on behavioral health calls.
The Fiscal Year 2023 budget of $15 million provides funding to add 74 new positions to make it a 24/7 round-the-clock operation across the city. The ACS will leverage existing contracts with behavioral health and substance abuse service providers, and make funding available to help social service providers scale up as needed to meet the demands of ACS.
The Community Safety Department will go from employing 58 in 2022 to employing 135 in 2023.
ADDRESSING THE HOMELESS
On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, the city officially announced it had bought the massive 572,000-square-foot complex for $15 million and will transform it into a Gateway Center for the homeless. It was announced that the complex would be only 1 of the multisite homeless shelters and not the 300-bed shelter originally planned. The complex has a 201-bed capacity, but remodeling could likely increase capacity significantly.
The 2022-2023 budget continues with Mayor Tim Keller’s commitment to help the homeless including funding for the Gateway Homeless Shelter on Gibson which will be house in a renovated Loveless Medical center that the City bought for $15 Million.
The 2022 proposed budget provides major funding to deal with the homeless including the following funding:
• $750,000 for proposed “safe outdoor spaces,” often called government sanctioned encampments for the homeless. If approved by Council, will enable ultra-low barrier encampments to set up in vacant dirt lots across the City. There is an additional $200,000 for developing other sanctioned encampment programs.
• $4.7 million net to operate the first Gateway Center at the Gibson Health Hub, including revenue and expenses for emergency shelter and first responder drop-off, facility operation and program operations.
• $1.3 million for a Medical Respite facility at Gibson Health Hub, which will provide acute and post-acute care for persons experiencing homelessness who are too ill or frail to recover from a physical illness or injury on the streets but are not sick enough to be in a hospital.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Gateway Center and the Medical Respite facility at Gibson Health Hub are expected to be fully operational by year’s end.
• $4 million in recurring funding and $3 million in one-time funding for supportive housing programs in the City’s Housing First model. In addition, as recommended by the Mayor’s Domestic Violence Task Force, the budget includes $100 thousand for emergency housing vouchers for victims of intimate partner violence.
• Full funding for the Westside Emergency Housing Center which is operated close to full occupancy for much of the year.
• $500 thousand to fund the development of a technology system that enables the City and providers to coordinate on the provision of social services to people experiencing homelessness and behavioral health challenges.
• $500 thousand to fund Albuquerque Street Connect, a highly effective program that focuses on people experiencing homelessness who use the most emergency services and care, to establish ongoing relationships that result in permanent supportive housing.
SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS INITIATIVES
Safe Neighborhood Initiatives deals with making strong neighborhoods marked by clean and safe public spaces and a thriving environment. The Fiscal Year 2023 budget includes the following Safe Neighborhood Initiatives:
• Full funding for nuisance abatement, including the Code Enforcement Division of Planning and the ADAPT program in the Fire Marshal’s Office to continue voluntary abatement, condemnations and clean-ups of substandard commercial and residential properties. Three years ago, the Keller Administration gutted the Safe City Strike Force, an acknowledged best practices program that initiated upwards of 1,000 enforcement actions a year against substandard properties that were magnets for crime, and eliminated $1.5 million in funding and substituted the ADAPT program that emphasizes “voluntary” compliance with city codes an avoids condemnations and code compliance measures.
• An additional $350 thousand to expand the spay and neuter program to reduce the population of homeless animals in the City.
• An additional $500 thousand to create a “park ranger” program, equivalent to Public Service Aides, who will be dedicated to City parks, open space and trails.
• $615 thousand for improvements to Animal Welfare Department facilities.
• Full funding for emergency board-up activities and the Block-by-Block program.
SAFE COMMUNITIES PROGRAMS
Safe Community programs are ones that deal with issues such as substance abuse, homelessness, domestic violence and youth opportunity makes our community safer and stronger. The Fiscal Year 2023 budget includes the following funding for Safe Community programs:
• $1.8 million to develop what will be Albuquerque’s only medical substance abuse facility dedicated to youths likely housed at the Gibson Health Hub.
• Full funding for the Violence Intervention Program that deals with both APD and Family & Community Services departments, including the first phase of School-Based VIP in partnership with APS.
• $736 thousand to fully fund the Assisted Outpatient Treatment program.
• $730 thousand for a partial year of operation of a Medical Sobering Center at Gibson Health Hub, which will complement the social model sobering facilities available at the County’s CARES campus.
• Full funding for the “Automated Speed Enforcement” program, including hearing officers, where civil speeding citations are issued with the use of “speed van” surveillance cameras. The “Automated Speed Enforcement” program was announced last year to deal with speeding. It is a “semi-judicial” program that is similar to the controversial “re light camera” program that was dismantled 7 years ago. The program will be administered by the City Clerk and not the City Attorney. The City Attorney Office is currently funded for and staffs the Metropolitan Court Traffic Arraignment program. The Office of the City Clerk also manages the Office of Administrative Hearings and is responsible for conducting all hearings specifically assigned by City of Albuquerque ordinance, including animal appeals, handicap parking and personnel matters. The proposed fiscal year 2023 General Fund budget is $4.3 million, an increase of 47.7%, or $1.4 million above the fiscal year 2022 original budget.
• Full funding for service contracts for mental health, substance abuse, early intervention and prevention programs, domestic violence shelters and services, sexual assault services, health and social service center providers, and services to abused, neglected and abandoned youth.
• Full investment in youth programs in partnership with the Albuquerque Public Schools and nonprofits that keep our kids off the streets and out of harm’s way and youth violence prevention initiatives that aim to break the intergenerational cycle of crime and incarceration.
STIMULATING THE ECONOMY
The city has been working to support businesses and families through the economic challenges of COVID-19. The proposed fiscal year 2023 budget invests in business support and economic development programs. Highlights include:
• $5 million investment in the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) fund, which has helped the City retain and attract businesses such as Netflix, NBC Universal, Los Poblanos, and Build With Robots.
• A $15 million reserve that will provide a local 4 to 1 match if the City is awarded a federal grant to create a “Space Valley” downtown.
• Streamlining the development process through $1.2 million in investments for process improvements, new technology, and additional staffing in the Planning Department.
• $1.1 million for the next phase of Job Training Albuquerque, a partnership with CNM Ingenuity that provides an opportunity for employers to skill up their workforce and provides an opportunity for employees to gain high-demand skills and industry specific credentials.
• $547 thousand to support the City’s hosting of sporting events, including the highly successful USATF track meet and tennis, pickleball, bicycle and running events.
• Funding for the next cohort of Tipping Points for Creatives, a highly successful initiative to enhance our creative economy using an “increment of one” approach.
• Full recurring funding for the Small Business Office, which has provided technical assistance to help local businesses access COVID relief programs, navigate permitting processes, and connect to resources for starting up and scaling up.
WORKFORCE YOUTH PROGRAMS
The Keller Administration since taking office 4 years ago has emphasized youth development programs to deal with crime and poverty by investing in programs that get youth off the street with before- and after-school and summer programs. COVID dramatically changed many needs of those programs. As the city populace emerges from the pandemic, the City is focusing on returning to pre-COVID levels of access and participation in summer and before- and after-school programs.
The Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposes to continue youth programming by fully funding the Head Start program in the General Fund, funding to sustain our highly successful Youth Connect system of youth programming, and support to aquatics. Funding is included for a new youth “sobering center” to provide addiction counseling and mental health services.
ONE TIME EXPENDITURES
Because of the volatility of the economy, including rising inflation and gas prices as well as fluctuating gross receipts tax revenues, the 2022-2023 proposed city budget contains significantly more onetime expenses in fiscal year. Nearly 11% of all general fund spending is line itemed for one-time expenditures which means once the projects are completed there will be no recurring budget expenses.
One-time money expenditures included in the budget are the following:
$10 million in nonrecurring money for city buildings, including potential upgrades to City Hall, the police headquarters and other city facilities.
$10 million for a “cost escalation fund” that will help complete existing construction projects amid soaring prices.
$5 million for future Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) grants,
$5 million for city vehicles.
$3 million for housing vouchers.
$2.6 million for a police use-of-force review consultant.
$2 million for dog parks.
$1.8 million for events sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture.
$1.5 million to subsidize the free city bus service.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
There are a few major takeaways in Keller’s proposed budget. The proposed budget in no way can be considered bland as Keller suggests.
HISTORICALLY HIGH BUDGETS
Last year’s $1.2 Billion dollar budget was the largest budget in the city’s history and that record has been broken. The 2022-2023 proposed city budget is $1.4 Billion containing $841.8 in general fund spending with an increase of $127 million, or 17.8%, making it the single largest budget in the city’s history.
APD FUNDING UP, PERFORMANCE MEASURES DOWN
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) continues to be the single largest city budget out of the 27 departments with a proposed general fund budget is $255.4 million, which represents an increase of 14.7% or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level. The problem is that for the 4th year in a row 1,100 full time police officer potions are fully funded, yet APD has only 888 sworn police.
Despite all of APD’s funding, APD’s felony arrests, misdemeanor arrests and DWI arrests are down for the 4th year in a row. APD made 10,945 felony arrests in 2020 and the number of felony arrests dropped to 6,621 in 2021. APD made 19,440 misdemeanor arrests in 2020 and misdemeanor arrest dropped to 16,520 in 2021. APD made 1,788 DWI arrests in 2020 and in 2021 DWI arrests dropped to 1,230.
13% PAY RAISES FOR VERSUS 2% COLA FOR CITY HALL WORKFORCE
In 2021 the city had 6,536 full time employees and under the proposed budget will have 6,916 for an increase of 380 or a 5.8% increase.
On February 4, it was reported that the Keller’s administration had negotiated a new police union contract making APD the best paid law enforcement agency in the region by increasing hourly wages and longevity pay and creating a whole new category of “incentive pay”. All of APD sworn police officers are members of the police union, including patrol officers, sergeants and lieutenants. All of APD sworn police were given combined pay increases of 13% under a two-year contract.
Under the signed union contract, APD’s starting wage is well above cities and law enforcement agencies of comparable size including Tucson, Arizona, $54,517, and El Paso, Texas, $47,011. Under the contract terms, longevity pay increases by 5% starting on July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year starting at $2,730 per year with those who have 5 years of service and with incremental service years up to 17 years or more who will be paid $16,380.
Under the union contract, sworn police are entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of time-and-one-half of their regular straight-time rate when they perform work in excess of forty (40) hours in any one workweek. Time worked over 40 hours per week is compensated at time and a half of the officer’s regular rate of pay, or in the form of “compensatory time.” There is no contract provision placing a cap on the amount of overtime any officer can be paid.
Pay increases should be based on merit and productivity and not failure. Giving 13% pay raises is tantamount to awarding failure to a union membership that is resisting the Department of Justice Police reforms, a police department that has failing performance measures when it comes to felony arrests and homicide investigations, a department that is failing to deal with spiking violent crime rates and a department that continues to have overtime pay scandals because of failed leadership. This is what you get from a Mayor and a City Council that refuses to hold anyone truly accountable for mismanagement and negligence.
City Executives and Department Directors are considered “at will” employees and serve at the pleasure of Mayor Keller. There are 28 city departments. There are 30 City Hall Executive Positions and Department Directors identified in the top 250 wage earners for the 2021 calendar year. When Keller was first elected 4 years ago, beginning pay for Department Directors was approximately $116,000 but over the last 4 years, the pay has increased to roughly $130,000 a year. Keller has also given his top executive staff pay raises of as much as 20% to 30% for essentially doing the same job.
The 2022-2023 proposed budget includes $13 million for a city-wide 2% cost-of-living increase. Buried in the 2022-2023 budget is the fact that the city hall workforce excluding APD sworn police, is approximately 5,916 (6,916 total workforce – 1,100 sworn) who will be given a mere 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) but subject to union negotiations.
A 2% COLA to the city hall workforce is laughable given the fact that the annual inflation rate for the United States is now 7.9% and the cost of gas has also hit historical highs. Mayor Keller should be embarrassed spending $127 million, or 17.8%, over last year’s budget, increasing the pay to APD and his executive staff by significant amounts and then providing a mere $13 million for a city-wide 2% cost-of-living increase to city workforce.
APD OVERTIME FUNDING INCREASED
A net total increase of $1.2 million has been added in overtime to APD’s proposed budget. A line item giving the total of the overtime pay budgeted cannot be found. The APD budget contains one line item entitled PD-Off Duty Police OT Program with the proposed 2023 budget reported as $1,800,000. No other line item funding can be identified in APD’s budget for APD overtime. APD sworn officers are paid “overtime” at the rate of time and a half.
During the last 10 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budgets by millions. In fiscal year 2016, APD was funded for $9 million for over time but APD actually spent $13 million. A March, 2017 city internal audit of APD’s overtime spending found police officers “gaming the system” that allowed them to accumulate excessive overtime at the expense of other city departments. A city internal audit report released in March, 2017 revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent over $3.9 million over its $9 million “overtime” budget. In 2019 APD paid $17.9 million in overtime and in 2020 paid $18.3 million in related overtime costs.
It was on Friday, August 6, 2021, the New Mexico State Auditor’s long-awaited special audit report on overtime abuse by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was released. It was the 7th audit performed on APD overtime practices since 2014. The 6 prior audits resulted in 17 findings and recommendation made to stop the overtime pay abuse. The 2021 special audit found there was an absolute failure by APD command staff to carry out and implement the changes needed to solve the overtime problem.
Review of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 city hall 250 highest paid wage earnings reveals the extent of the staggering amount of overtime paid to APD Sergeants and Lieutenants. The lopsided number of APD sworn police officers listed in the top 250 paid city hall employees is directly attributed to the excessive amount of overtime paid to sworn police officers.
CITY HALL SANCTIONED HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS
Since being elected Mayor in 2017, Mayor Tim Keller has made it a top priority to deal with the city’s homeless crisis. $900,000 out of a $1.4 Billion dollar budget does not sound like much, especially to help the homeless, unless where you live and your own peaceful use and enjoyment of your home are affected.
Buried in the Keller proposed 2022-2023 proposed budget is $750,000 for proposed “safe outdoor spaces,” often called government sanctioned encampments for the homeless. If approved by Council, it will enable ultra-low barrier encampments to set up in vacant dirt lots across the City. There is an additional $200,000 for developing other sanctioned encampment programs.
These are definitely 2 appropriations that come as “surprise”. Keller has yet to make any sort “announcement” of city sanctioned encampments no doubt realizing just how controversial it will likely be to have such encampments spread throughout the city. Keller alienated many when he unilaterally decided on the purchase of the Lovelace Gibson facility and announcing that it would be used as a homeless shelter with little or no input from the surrounding neighborhoods.
City hall sanctioned encampments need to be fully vetted by the city council and until such time the Keller Administration can present how sites will be selected and specific locations, the City Council would be wise to eliminate the funding and demand a separate resolution.
SPEED VAN ENFORCEMENT
The proposed fiscal year 2023 General Fund budget for the City Clerk is $4.3 million, an increase of 47.7%, or $1.4 million above the fiscal year 2022 original budget. The reason for the increase is full funding for the “Automated Speed Enforcement” program. Simply put traffic citation and traffic code enforcement by APD and patrolling the streets of the city are a thing of the past and no longer a priority as is evidenced by the steep decline in traffic court arraignments. The City Attorneys office oversees and provides attorneys and paralegals for the Metropolitan Traffic Arraignment program where city attorneys and paralegals have replaced sworn police at arraignments. The 2022-2023 proposed budget reflects that in 2020, the legal department managed 19,650 traffic cases at arraignment and in 2021, it processed 4,044 cases.
The “Automated Speed Enforcement” program was announced last year as a solution to the city’s chronic problem of car speeding and reckless driving that has become a deadly problem. Under the program, speeding “civil citations” will be issued by speed van “surveillance cameras” and administrative hearings by the city will be held. The “Automated Speed Enforcement” program includes funding for hearing officers and the program. It is a “semi-judicial” program that is similar to the controversial “re light camera” program that was dismantled 7 years ago. The program will be administered by the City Clerk and not the City Attorney. The “Automated Speed Enforcement” program is a program that should be administered by the City Attorney’s office and not the City Clerk. The City Attorney Office currently is funded for and staffs the traffic court arraignment program.
LINE ITEM FOR ONE-TIME EXPENDITURES
Spending nearly 11% of all general fund spending on one-time line item expenditures is in no way “bland”. What is critical is for the city council to get a complete report on the status of each before the approve the overall budget.
The City Council budget process is one of the very few times that the council can bore deep down into each of the city department budgets. All too often, Mayor’s and their political operatives view the City Council more of an annoyance as opposed to being a legitimate oversight function.
All to often, it becomes a process of members of the City Council asking the Mayor and his top executives the main question “What is it in this budget do you not want us to know about?” or put it another way “What is it that you are hiding or lying about?”
The City Council will now review the budget and can make changes as it sees fit. There will be 3 public hearings on the budget. The council will make amendments during its own deliberation process. The council must approve a budget by May 31 or the Mayor’s budget must be adopted as is and with no changes.
OTHER MAJOR DEPARTMENTS BUDGETS
Other major departments budgets worth noting in the 2022-2023 budget listed from highest to lowest budgets in the 2023 proposed budget are as follows:
The SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT provides residential and commercial trash collection, disposal, and the collection of residential recycling. The department oversees large-item disposal, graffiti removal, weed and litter abatement, median maintenance, convenience centers, and neighborhood cleanup support. Other services include operating the City landfill in compliance with State and Federal regulations and educating the public about recycling and responsible waste disposal. The proposed budget is $89.8 million, of which $67.1 million is to fund operations and $22.6 million is in transfers to other funds. The Solid Waste Management Department’s proposed fiscal year 2023 operating budget reflects an increase of 3.8% or $3.3 million above the fiscal year 2022 original budget level. In 2022, the department budget lists 505 full time positions and and in 2023 there 524 full time positions listed.
The FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICES has total funding at $72.4 million. Under the 2023 budget, its funding will be increased by 24%. Family and Community Services in 2022 is budgeted for 323 and in 2023 it is budgeted for 335 full time positions.
The AVIATION DEPARTMENT operates two municipal airports: The Albuquerque International Sunport , which covers approximately 2,200 acres on Albuquerque’s east side; and Double Eagle II (DE II) Reliever Airport, which covers approximately 4,500 acres on Albuquerque’s west side. The proposed fiscal year 2023 operating budget for the City’s two airports, including transfers for capital and debt service needs, is $69.2 million, or an increase of 4% from the fiscal year 2022 original budget of $66.5 million employing 293 in 2022 and employing 298 in 2023.
The DEPARTMENT OF ARTS AND CULTURE is comprised of seven divisions. The Albuquerque Biological Park (BioPark) operates the Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Gardens, Heritage Farm, Bugarium, Tingley Beach and the Albuquerque Museum. The fiscal year 2023 proposed General Fund budget for the Department of Arts and Culture of $49.7 million and reflects an increase of 7% or $3.3 million above the fiscal year 2022 level. The Department of Arts and Culture in 2022 is budgeted for 399 and in 2023 it is budgeted for 403 full time positions.
The TRANSIT DEPARTMENT provides fixed route (ABQ Ride) and rapid transit (ART) bus service for the Albuquerque community and Para-Transit (SunVan) service for the mobility impaired population. The Fiscal year 2023 proposed budget for the Transit Department Operating Fund is $62.8 million, an increase of $13.5 million above the fiscal 2022 original budget. The department has listed 546 full time postions for 2022 and has 552 full time positions listed for 2023.
The PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT serves the recreational needs of the residents of Albuquerque and the surrounding metropolitan areas. The department is organized into the following divisions: park management, recreation services, aquatics, open space, golf, parks design, planning and construction. The proposed FY/23 General Fund budget is $54.2 million, an increase of 17.1%, or $7.9 million above the FY/22 original budget. The Parks and Recreation Department employs 318 in 2022 and will 329 in 2023.
The DEPARTMENT OF MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT (DMD) operates and maintains City streets, storm drains, traffic signals, street lighting, parking operations and the development and design of capital public buildings. The fiscal year 2023 proposed General Fund budget is $39 million, a decrease of 45.5% or $32.5 million below the fiscal year 2022 original budget. The major reason for the decrease is that many functions and divisions of the DMD were transferred to General Services Department including the department’s divisions of security, facilities maintenance, energy, Gibson Medical Center, Law Enforcement Center and stadium operations resulting in a total decrease to DMD’s budget of $37.8 million. Total full time positions for the Municipal Development Department will go from 546 in 2022 to 334 in 2023.
The GENERAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT (GSD) is a new department in fiscal year 2023 with the key responsibility of centralizing maintenance of major City facilities such as the Albuquerque Government Center, the Baseball Stadium and the Convention Center, which includes contract management. This department will assume responsibility for the facilitation of security and fleet operations throughout the City. GSD also includes Energy and Sustainability as well as the Law Enforcement Center and Gibson Medical Center. The fiscal year 2023 proposed General Services budget is $39 million and includes a move of facilities, security, Gibson Medical Center, 3% Energy CIP from Municipal Development, Convention Center and Railyards from Economic Development, and Fleet Services from Finance and Administrative Services. The number of full time employees for the General services department in 2021 is 247.
The PLANNING DEPARTMENT’S fiscal year 2023 proposed budget is $21.9 million, an increase of $5.2 million or 31.6% above the fiscal year 2022 original budget. The planning department will add 21 new positions, including 10 “to streamline and expedite” development review processes, and new departmental software. In Code Enforcement, eight positions are added to increase the division’s ability to respond to customer inquiries, provide quicker review times for building permits, and to properly enforce new ordinances and initiatives. The total cost for positions and associated operating increases the budget by $571 thousand of which $28 thousand is one-time.
The CITY ATTORNEY and the Legal Department advises the City in all legal matters, and consists of six main divisions: the Litigation Division; the Employment Law Division; the Municipal Affairs Division; the Division of Property, Finance, Development and Public Information; the Policy Division; and the Compliance Division. The Litigation Division appears on behalf of the City in all courts in New Mexico and before administrative and legislative bodies. The legal department is responsible for managing and defending the City, its elected and appointed officials, and departments before all federal and state courts in relation to civil rights and tort related claims. The proposed fiscal year 2023 General Fund budget is $9.7 million, an increase of 22% over the fiscal year 2022 original budget. In 2021, the legal department employed 78 full time employees and in 2023 it is budgeted to employ 83.
The OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK maintains official records for the City of Albuquerque, administers the public financing program for municipal elections, manages and administers all municipal elections, accepts construction and contracting bids from the general public, as well as accepts service of process for summons, subpoenas and tort claims on behalf of the City of Albuquerque. The City Clerk is the chief records custodian for the City of Albuquerque and processes requests for public records pursuant to the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IRPA). The city clerk receives upwards of 10,000 public records requests each year. The Office of the City Clerk also manages the Office of Administrative Hearings and is responsible for conducting all hearings specifically assigned by City of Albuquerque ordinance, including animal appeals, handicap parking and personnel matters. The proposed fiscal year 2023 General Fund budget is $4.3 million, an increase of 47.7%, or $1.4 million above the fiscal year 2022 original budget. The city clerk has 28 full time employees.
Other much smaller budgeted city departments include Senior Affairs, the Human Resources Department, the Office of the Mayor, Office of Chief Administrative Officer, the Office of Inspector General, Office of Internal Audit and the Civilian Police Oversight Department. Smaller departments such as City Support, Finance and Administrative Services, and Human Resources have large appropriations because of the number and type of funds managed within the departments.
The link to the proposed 244-page, 2022-2023 budget to review all city department budgets is here: