It’s worth at least a yellow card.
The New Mexico United soccer team-funded pro-stadium political action committee pushed a story that money tied up in stadium bond issuance in the Nov. 2 ballot cannot legally be spent on public safety – or any other basic city services – in the event the bond issue fails.
The city’s chief financial officer, Sanjay Bhakta, agrees that if the bond issuance fails, the gross tax revenue that would be used to withdraw the $ 50 million GRT bond could, in fact, be reallocated to the general fund if the municipal council and the mayor decide to do so. In that case, the roughly $ 3.2 million a year for 20 years that would have covered the stadium’s $ 50 million bail could be used to cover operating costs, including the police.
This flies in the face of an informative ‘fact versus fiction’ graphic from a committee funded by New Mexico United, called NM for Art & Sport, which states, “The money 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.
This ignores the fact that these are bonds issued against gross tax revenue rather than general bonds that typically finance the construction of buildings, roads and other infrastructure. GRT bonds are much more flexible in how the proceeds can be used.
The city council-approved voting measure subjecting the tax deposit to gross receipts for voter approval has, in fact, tied the money to the stadium project. And that’s what would happen if it did – but not necessarily if it didn’t.
David Carl, United’s communications director and chairman of the pro-stadium PAC (at arm’s length there) defends the position, saying the board voted to allocate GRT funds to investment projects. “We stand by our accurate statement that not spending money on a stadium does not mean more money is available to fight crime. “
It should be noted that APD does not suffer from a lack of budget. But that doesn’t make the PAC’s statement true. The TSO’s revenues could be a source of funding for capital projects or the Council and the mayor have the possibility to reallocate the money for operating expenses.
There are other important questions that investors in the team have not answered, including how long United are committed to staying here and how much they will pay the city for the use of the facility. How much skin will they have in the stadium project? And can we please see that in writing?
Comparing this proposal to the modernization of the Isotopes baseball stadium, the city had a much stronger commitment before the issue went to voters in 2001.
And as for the unanswered questions, there are a few important ones on the city side of the ledger – namely where the stadium will go, what master plan and parking lot will be included, and where the extra $ 20 million will go. of the stadium’s estimated $ 70 million the cost will come from. Will the city’s taxpayers be responsible for this as well?
There is still time for stadium funders and Mayor Tim Keller’s administration to shed light on the important issues surrounding this proposal.
They have to do it – and without repeating the fallacious approach taken by the United-funded PAC. Especially if they don’t want that yellow card to be followed by a red card.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned because it represents the opinion of the journal rather than that of the authors.