Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque voters will decide this fall whether the city should invest in a new multi-purpose football stadium using millions of dollars that project supporters have suggested would not otherwise be available for crime-fighting efforts.
The narrative, which recently spread on social media, sidesteps the fact that the money tied up in the proposed $ 50 million stadium bond could legally be spent on public safety – or many other city departments in the city. basis – in case of failure of the deposit.
If voters approve the stadium bond in the Nov. 2 poll, the city will borrow $ 50 million by issuing bonds to design and build the site. The city would promise gross tax revenue to pay off the resulting debt – payments officials estimate it will amount to around $ 3.2 million per year for 20 years.
GRT is the assessed tax on the sale of goods and services. It is more flexible than some sources of income; the city can use it for capital expenditures, such as buildings, as well as for basic city operations. The TSO is the cornerstone of the city’s general fund, which covers police and firefighter salaries, park maintenance, road maintenance, animal shelters and more.
But amid criticism from some residents that the city has far greater needs than a football stadium, a pro-stadium political action committee recently produced an informative graphic drawing distinctions between money than the city. would use for the stadium and the money she would use to fight crime. .
The committee, NM For Art & Sport, is so far fully funded by New Mexico United, according to the most recent campaign fundraising reports. United is the professional football team that would be the main tenant of the new stadium through a lease with the city.
The PAC’s fact-against-fiction stadium graphic – which supporters shared on various social media platforms – states that “The money that is used to fight crime in Albuquerque comes from the general fund. The money that would be used for this stage is bonded for capital projects. Not spending money on a stadium does not mean that more money is available to fight crime.
It is true that the tax revenue that the city would use to repay a stadium bond was until this summer spent on debt related to other investment projects.
But the city recently paid off some of those bonds, releasing about $ 4 million a year, Albuquerque CFO Sanjay Bhakta said. The city could borrow money for a stadium and use those newly realized savings to make annual payments – a strategy to fund the stadium without raising taxes.
In August, the city council put the plan forward, approving legislation that subjects the $ 50 million gross revenue tax bond for voter approval and ties the money to the stadium project.
David Carl, United’s communications director and chairman of the pro-stadium PAC, defended the graphic’s message based on this vote.
“On August 16, the city council voted 7-2 to allocate these funds to capital projects,” he wrote in a statement to the Journal. “We stand by our accurate statement that not spending money on a stadium does not mean more money is available to fight crime. “
He argues that the stadium could potentially generate new funding for public safety.
But if the $ 50 million stadium bond is not accepted, the money is not forever stuck in investment projects, even if it was there before.
He could possibly go to the general fund where he could pay the running costs of the city, including the police; or it could remain a source of funding for capital projects.
It would be up to city leaders.
If the bond fails, reallocating the money would require resuming “the entire council process,” Bhakta said in an email, noting that the council and the mayor would have a say.