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The Council is considering obligations for facilities

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Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

A major facilities spending plan that the Albuquerque City Council killed last year has been reborn — in part thanks to an adviser who helped defeat the previous version.

Council President Isaac Benton voted last December against the Brook Bassan/Klarissa Peña legislation to borrow $110 million for various building and infrastructure improvements. But he has now joined Bassan and Dan Lewis in presenting a similar proposal which the council will vote on next week.

The trio want the city to issue $100 million in new bonds to complete or invest in 16 projects across Albuquerque.

The largest portion – $20 million – would fund affordable housing. Large shares would also go towards the long-awaited North Domingo Baca pool, expanding Paseo del Norte and Unser, and creating a new West Side public safety facility. Each of these efforts would bring in $15 million.

The 2021 Bassan/Peña proposal died Dec. 6 when it failed to win the support of a supermajority of the council. Their plan was to sell the bonds without gaining voter approval, a method that requires the agreement of seven councillors. The legislation failed on a 5-4 vote.

Benton had voted with the opposition. He said the schedule bothered him because there were several “lame duck” advisers making the decision. Four of the nine advisers in office at the time of the vote would be replaced less than a month later.

Benton also argued that the city should focus on operating costs rather than building projects, particularly investing more money in ongoing rental assistance vouchers.

But now that the council has passed an operating budget that will significantly increase spending on rental vouchers next year, Benton said he’s more comfortable with big infrastructure investments.

“I’ve had the support (from the board) for the vouchers, which makes me more receptive to this deal,” Benton said.

Bassan – who said she “never intended to let (this idea) go” – said she was confident this version would succeed because the council’s budget committee has already voted on it. unanimously in favor and because the sponsors of the legislation took into account feedback from other advisers on which projects they wanted to include.

“I think working with the other councilors is really important to be able to see the changes (around the city). I think taxpayers want to see projects for their money, said Bassan, who noted that the $15 million allocated for the North Domingo Baca pool should be enough to eventually get the facility built based on estimates. existing.

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

At one point, Mayor Tim Keller had proposed using some of this bonding capacity to fund a new multi-purpose football stadium where New Mexico United would play. But city voters overwhelmingly rejected the $50 million stadium bond in last November’s election.

Shortly thereafter, Bassan and Peña presented their proposal to use bonding capacity for a $110 million infrastructure package.

Some of the projects on their 2021 slate — like Affordable Housing and the North Domingo Baca Pool — are included in the new release. But the latest legislation also reflects the contributions of the four councilors who took office on January 1.

Lewis, for example, said he wanted to prioritize the Paseo del Norte and Unser project in his district over the Cibola Loop multigenerational center, which would have received money as part of the year’s proposal. last. The West Side councilman said the city already has $10 million available for roadwork and a potential injection of $15 million would complete the necessary funding.

He said the widening of the road would serve a “massive part of our city that desperately needs more infrastructure” and that he would pursue funding for the multi-generational center from other sources next year.

Councilman Louie Sanchez, who also took office on Jan. 1, was able to get some projects he wanted funded on the new bond list. He requested $1 million for trail development and planning on the Poole property — a newly acquired open-space property in his district — and $1.5 million to upgrade the city’s Shooting Range Park.

“It’s so outdated; it will really help the police and also help the public,” Sanchez said of the park.

The District of Sanchez would also receive $3 million for West Mesa Aquatic Center updates and $500,000 for Ouray Boulevard improvements.