Shame on the Albuquerque Water Authority for not standing up for their customers!

Mayor Berry’s proposed bus rapid transit system (ART) down Central saw a massive price hike recently when a study done for the Albuquerque-Bernalillo Water Authority indicated that moving sewer lines and other infrastructure would cost as much $30 million. That’s a 30% increase in the overall cost of ART or a 150% hike in the share paid by New Mexico and Albuquerque residents (as opposed to Washington).

Last night, I testified on this issue in front of the Water Authority Board, made up of: County Commissioners Hart-Stebbins, O’Malley, and De La Cruz, City Councilor: Jones and Sanchez, and Mayor Berry (a role filled last night by COO Mike Riordan). Garduno’s seat must be in a transition as he wasn’t there. I noted that already rate-payers are seeing 5% rate hikes every other year and that Gov. Martinez would be a fool to saddle state taxpayers with $30 million in costs for a local “prestige” project like ART. In other words, rate-payers, not all of whom live in Albuquerque, will be stuck with further unnecessary rate hikes for this transit boondoggle.

Sadly, despite the fact that several members of the Water Board expressed a clear understanding of the potential negative impact on the entity’s finances and rate-payers (only Riordan called tearing up Central for the ART “an opportunity”), not a single member of the Board presented a motion to remove the $30 million request. Clearly, they’d rather stick their heads in the sand than make a tough decision on behalf of their “customers.”

I’m not sure who I’m more disappointed by: Trudy Jones for simply falling in line with Mayor Berry based on party affiliation or the Democrats who were unwilling to stand up for fiscal responsibility even when it provided them a perfect opportunity to stand on behalf of rate-payers (many of whom are poor or on fixed incomes) against a profligate mayor of the opposite party.

Notably, Dowd Muska, Research Director at the Rio Grande Foundation pointed out in a policy paper released a few months ago that utility re-routing could be an added expense related to the bus rapid transit system. Of course water is by no means the only utility that uses the Central “right of way.” We don’t know how much PNM and New Mexico Gas Company will need from their customers in order to accommodate ART.

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4 Replies to “Shame on the Albuquerque Water Authority for not standing up for their customers!”

  1. For the life of me, I simply can’t see any benefit, financial or otherwise, for this ART project. I don’t pretend to know the potential total costs, but I have no doubt that it will exceed $200 million – all to serve one small segment of Albuquerque. This will cut back on auto traffic, as well as eliminate on-street parking. So, just how can this be helpful to businesses in the Central corridor?! And this area is far from being the biggest shopping revenue area in town. I’ve lived here for over 65 years and seldom, if ever, do any shopping in this area – so why the big push for this project?!

  2. Mr. Gessing, your remarks to the water utility last evening are greatly appreciated! FYI, I had sent similar comments via email. Indeed, the utility’s ratepayers should pay for all expenses related to the ill-conceived bus rapid transit system, and all WUA-related needs.
    When we augmented the city of Raton’s finite water supply we successfully lobbied the legislature to pass a bill that would allow us to self- impose a tax on Raton’s ratepayers to defray all expenses – and they were substantial, to complete the project. (The city of Raton transported its water from Eagle Nest Lake to the city of Raton.)
    The city of Albuquerque and the WUA should use aforementioned law to fund their projects! But don’t hold your breath as the mayor will try again to raid the PERA fund to defray the costs of double-dipping for police officers!!

    1. Thank you Mr. Gurule. I actually wish that some of the members of the ABCWUA would put up a fight against the ART itself on account of its cost to their rate payers, but any kind of backbone on the issue would be appreciated.

  3. There is this great concept called the Sky Taxi. What it is- is a modular, monorail transport system with small 16~20 person pods for local transport. It would have a small footprint.

    If anything could eliminate congestion that could.

    Instead we have the Rail Runner that services mostly state and city employees who can’t afford to live in Santa Fe. Another Democrat great society plan.

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