The City of Albuquerque may be “new and improved” as of last November, but a majority on City Council seem to believe that spending more money is the path to success. On Monday night the Council on a 7-2 vote passed a budget with an increase of 20%. Only Dan Lewis and Rene Grout voted “no.”
As the Journal article points out, “The budget includes 5% pay hikes for city workers – plus additional one-time incentives of up to $2,000 per employee – and significantly ups spending on rental support.”
Councilor Brook Bassan cited inflation as one of the causes of the massive budget uptick, but the final budget passed by Council is a shocking $15 million higher than the fiscal year 2023 proposal Mayor Tim Keller. The total city budget will total about $1.4 billion. The Keller administration estimates having over $100 million more in gross receipts tax to spend in 2023 than it budgeted for this year.
Alas, in February on a 1-8 vote, Council rejected a minimal 1/8 cent gross receipts tax reduction which would have reduced GRT taxes by $20 million dollars annually. Simply adhering to the Mayor’s budget outline and eliminating “free” bus service at a “cost” of $3 million would have nearly generated enough savings to reduce taxes.
Unfortunately, Albuquerque’s City Council seems more concerned about taking care of its own rather than helping average New Mexicans.
UPDATE: While not a large portion of the overall bill, the Council saw fit to add $250,000 to the budget to fund abortion provider Planned Parenthood through a “Council-directed sponsorship.” This has not been done in the past and the seemingly no-strings-attached nature of the grant raises all kinds of concerns from both moral and policy perspectives.