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Council plan boosts police pay by 5%

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Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque city councilors had good news late Thursday for police and West Side youngsters.

They weren’t so kind to the mayor’s plan to boost garbage rates to pay for a new waste-transfer station.

The action came in a budget hearing Thursday. Final consideration of the budget is scheduled for Monday’s council meeting.

The changes made Thursday would provide a little extra money to help boost the pay of police officers by 5 percent. Councilors also earmarked extra funds to help complete renovation of the swimming pool at Rio Grande High School and to keep the small Alamosa library open, even after a new one opens near Central and Unser late this year.

But the council’s action put the budget for garbage operations, and the rate increase, in doubt.

A proposal to tentatively approve the garbage budget and schedule it for final consideration Monday failed on a 4-5 vote. The proposal included Mayor Richard Berry’s plan to increase monthly garbage bills by about $2.

The rate increase was to pay for median maintenance and construction of a new transfer station where garbage trucks could drop off trash instead of heading all the way out to the West Side landfill.

Councilors didn’t debate the proposal before voting on it.

But three Democrats – Klarissa Peña, Rey Garduño and Ken Sanchez – joined Republicans Dan Lewis and Brad Winter in voting against the trash budget.

Supporting it were Democrats Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson, in addition to Republicans Trudy Jones and Don Harris.

The council action means there’s no budget proposal at the moment for running the Solid Waste Management Department, starting July 1. Whether councilors will try to revive Berry’s proposal or come up with a new one wasn’t clear Thursday as members of the Berry administration huddled with council staffers to discuss what to do next.

As for the basic operating budget for other city departments, the council accepted a proposal sponsored by Lewis, the council’s budget chairman.

That plan, if approved Monday, would:

  • Make enough funding available to boost police officers’ pay by 5 percent, matching what the police union requested. Berry had proposed enough for 4 percent. It would be subject to negotiation with the union.
  • Provide $200,000 to make up half the $400,000 shortfall in the Rio Grande pool project. The council expressed optimism that Albuquerque Public Schools would come up with the other $200,000.
  • Earmark $183,000 to keep the Alamosa library running after Dec. 1, when it was scheduled to close and have its staff moved to the new Unser library. Peña sponsored an amendment and won approval for the money.

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