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Clean Team Requests City Funds

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The nonprofit group that runs Downtown Albuquerque’s business improvement district needs about $183,000 in city funding to continue operating, its executive director says.

Debbie Stover of the Downtown Action Team said Monday that some property owners in the district haven’t been making payments over the last few years and only the city is authorized to collect on delinquencies.

The City Council postponed a decision on the funding until Feb. 20.

Stover said help is needed quickly.

“I don’t know that we could even make it 30 days,” Stover said.

City Attorney David Tourek said the city is trying to collect. Owners of the Albuquerque Plaza office building, meanwhile, have sued the city and Downtown Action Team.

The plaza is some $200,000 in arrears on BID fees, Tourek said.

B.J. Crow, an attorney for Albuquerque Plaza Office Investment LLC, questioned whether his clients are getting much out of the $70,000 or so they’re charged in annual business improvement district fees.

“We’re not receiving those benefits that we’re allegedly paying for,” he said.

He told councilors that his clients have tried to settle their concerns out of court. The state statute authorizing the district is unconstitutional, he said.

The Downtown Action Team operates “clean teams” that spruce up the city core, and some of its budget also goes toward recruitment and marketing.

The team has run the business-improvement district since 2000. Property owners in the district are charged fees based on the appraised value of their property, and the city acts as the fiscal agent.

The council was sharply divided.

Supporters described the infusion of cash as a short-term fix while the city collects from delinquent accounts. They said it was reasonable to provide the money because the city approved the district’s budget, and the Downtown Action Team continues to provide services.

“The city has a lot at stake in this — years and years of work,” Councilor Isaac Benton said. “We don’t want to be rash about letting it go down the drain.”

Council President Dan Lewis questioned whether it was appropriate to tap city money to help.

“It’s not the best use, I believe, of taxpayer dollars,” he said.

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