City Council’s $2.1 Billion City Budget Followed By $110 Million Infrastructure Bonds; $20 Million In Bonding For Affordable Housing Difficult To Justify With $2.1 Billion Budget

On May 16, the Albuquerque City Council voted 7 to 2 to approve the 2022-2023 city budget. The council approved the budget on a 7-2 vote with Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton, Klarisa Pena, Tammy Fiebelkorn and Louie Sanchez and Republicans Brook Basaan and Trudy Jones voting YES and Republicans Dan Lewis and Renee Grout voting NO. The fiscal year begins on July 1, 2022 and will end on June 30, 2023. By law, the city budget must be a balance budget with deficit spending strictly prohibited.


The overall budget approved by the Albuquerque City council is for $1.4 Billion and with $857 million in general fund Appropriations. The budget approved by the council was increased by 20% over the current year’s budget which ends June 10, 2022.

The general fund appropriation for the 2022-2023 fiscal year is more than the present year’s $714.5 million. It is also $15 million more than the fiscal year 2023 proposed by Mayor Tim Keller and sent to the Council on April 1. The total city budget of $1.4 Bullion includes “enterprise fund” Departments, such as Aviation, that are funded by their own revenues.

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 approved 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 Keller administration projected that the city will have over $100 million more in gross receipts tax to spend in 2023 than it budgeted for this year. Gross Receipts Tax is the tax assessed on the sale of most goods and services and GRT revenues have been much stronger than expected creating a balance of funding that can be applied to the 2022- 2023 budget cycle.

The approved budget includes 5% pay hikes for city workers plus additional one-time incentives of up to $2,000 per employee. The 5% pay raise for city workers and one-time incentive pay of between $500 and $2,000 dollars is for employees making under $100,000 a year. The Keller Administration had proposed a city-wide 2% cost-of-living increase for the city workforce. The City of Albuquerque employs upwards of 6,259 full time employees.

The link to the proposed and enacted 2022-2023 proposed budget is here:


On June 2, it was reported that the Albuquerque City Council will once again consider a major bonding package for infra structure and facilities that was rejected last year. The original bonding package rejected was sponsored by Republican City Councilor Brook Bassan and Democrat Klarisa Peña and it was for $110 million for various building and infrastructure improvements.

The 2021 Bassan/Peña proposal failed last December when it failed to secure support from a council super-majority. The original plan was to sell the bonds without getting voter approval, a method that requires agreement from seven councilors. The legislation failed on a 5-4 vote.

Controversy surrounded the proposal last year because 4 of the 9 councilors in office at the time of the vote were going to be replaced less than a month later. The biggest dust up occurred when incoming City Councilor Elect Louie Sanchez, who beat city councilor Lan Sena in the December election, made the false claim that he was the elected city councilor for the district and demanded to be sworn in and Lan Sena be removed before her term ended on January 1. Sanchez wanted to vote NO on the bonds while Sena voted yes on the measure.

Benton had voted with the opposition back in December proclaiming the timeline bothered him because there were several “lame duck” councilors making the decision. Benton also argued that the city should focus on operating costs rather than building projects, specifically by putting more money into ongoing rental assistance vouchers.

Council President Isaac Benton, who voted down the bonding last year, has joined with Republicans Dan Lewis and Brook Bassan to sponsor similar legislation to borrow $110 million for building and infrastructure improvements. The new bonding for $100 million will be used to complete, or put money toward, 16 projects throughout Albuquerque.

The biggest portion or $20 million, would fund affordable housing. Funding will also go toward the North Domingo Baca swimming pool, widening Paseo del Norte and Unser, and creating a new West Side public safety facility. Each of those facilities would get $15 million under the new bonding resolution.

The approved 2022-2023 city budget passed on May 16 includes an operating budget that will significantly increase rental voucher spending next year. As a result Benton said he is more comfortable with the large infrastructure investments. Benton had this to say:

“I received [council] support for the vouchers [in the recently enacted budget] so that makes me more amenable to this deal.


Review of the bond measure reveals funding for the following projects:

• Affordable housing: $20 million
• North Domingo Baca Aquatic Center: $15 million
• Paseo del Norte/Unser expansion: $15 million
• West Side public safety facility: $15 million
• Rail Trail: $10 million
• Los Altos Park renovation completion: $5.5 million
• Fire Station 12: $4 million
• Albuquerque Police Department main police station: $4 million
• Loma Linda Community Center gym: $3 million
• West Mesa Aquatic Center updates: $3 million
• Shooting Range Park improvements: $1.5 million
• Ken Sanchez indoor sports complex: $1 million
• Poole Property open space: $1 million
• Manzano Mesa pickleball courts: $1 million
• Ouray Boulevard: $500,000
• McKinley bike shop completion: $500,000


Some of the original projects contained in the rejected 2021 bonding resolution are included in the new resolution. Those include affordable housing and the North Domingo Baca pool.

The new bonding legislation contains projects from the 4 councilors who took office January 1, 2022, including Republican Councilor Dan Lewis and Democrat Councilor Louie Sanchez.

Republican Councilor Lewis in the new resolution prioritizes the Paseo del Norte and Unser project in his district rather than the Cibola Loop Multigenerational Center. The city already has $10 million available for the road work and the $15 million infusion will complete the needed funding. Lewis said the road widening would serve a “massive part of our city that’s in desperate need of more infrastructure,” and that he’d pursue funding for the multigenerational center from other sources next year.

Councilor Louie Sanchez was able to secure projects he wanted funded on the new bond list. Sanchez sought $1 million for trail development and planning at the new Poole property acquired open space property in his district and $1.5 million to upgrade the city’s Shooting Range Park. Sanchez’s West side district will also get $3 million for West Mesa Aquatic Center updates and $500,000 for Ouray Boulevard improvements.

The city would repay the bonds with gross receipts taxes — the tax assessed on the sale of most goods and services. It will take 20 years and the city will owe $5.7 million annually to start and $12.95 million per year toward the end, according to the city’s chief financial officer. It would not raise taxes because the city has existing borrowing capacity after paying off some old bonds last year.


The 2022-2023 approved city budget provides major funding to deal with the homeless including the following approved funding:

• $24 million in Emergency Rental Assistance from the federal government, which the City will make available in partnership with the State.

• $4 million in recurring funding and $2 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.

• $4.7 million net to operate the City’s first Gateway Center at the Gibson Medical Facility, including revenue and expenses for facility and program operations.

• $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.

• $214 thousand to adequately staff the senior meal home delivery program, which delivered over 390,000 meals to seniors since the pandemic started.

• $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.

• $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.

• 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.


Because of the volatility of the economy, including rising inflation and gas prices as well as fluctuating gross receipts tax revenues, the 2022-2023 approved city budget contains significantly more onetime expenses in the 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 approved 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.

It is very difficult to understand City Councilor Issaac Benton wanting to include $20 million in the new bonding package for Affordable Housing given the millions that have been earmarked in funding in the recently enacted 2022- 2023 city budget. The $20 for Affordable housing is debt that will take $20 years to pay off. Given the fact that the city just enacted a $2 Billion budget, you would think the sponsors could have found that $20 million in the budget without relying on bonds which is being done with other infrastructure projects and one-time expenditures.

The links to quoted news sources material are here

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.