Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Before adjourning last month, legislators signed off on a hefty capital outlay bill that set aside $760,000 for five projects for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, including money for the purchase of vehicles, infrared cameras and an armored vehicle.
But those projects were among more than 500 vetoed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 11 due to concerns over the global financial crisis.
“Given the volatility in global oil markets and global economic uncertainty related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the governor took a cautious approach to General Fund capital appropriations, vetoing some projects in a fiscally prudent move,” the governor’s spokeswoman wrote in a news release about the spending bill.
Furthermore, spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett told the Journal, BCSO’s projects didn’t receive funding in 2020 because the office had funds left over from the previous year that had not been spent.
Sackett said BCSO had two appropriations from the previous year – $234,000 for body armor and $360,000 for vehicles – left over. She said the Taos County Sheriff’s Office was in the same boat with its appropriation for vehicles.
“The others (sheriff’s offices) either did not have a previous appropriation or had spent what was appropriated,” Sackett wrote in an email. “Reflecting the same tone, the Governor’s Veto Message for HB 349 explained that she vetoed projects where recipients have not yet used their capital funds from the current fiscal year.”
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said his department will try to fund its projects in other ways, including seeking out grants and partnering with federal law enforcement agencies.
“During this critical time law enforcement and the citizens of Bernalillo County need all of the tools necessary to assist in fighting the crime crisis Albuquerque is facing,” the sheriff wrote in a statement. “Although all our capital outlay was vetoed, we will not be discouraged.”
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office funding that was vetoed includes:
• $335,000 for vehicle purchasing and equipment.
• $120,000 for infrared cameras.
• $25,000 to purchase 3D scanners.
• $220,000 to purchase a Bearcat, an armored vehicle.
• $60,000 for a simulation shooting house facility.
Overall, Gov. Lujan Grisham axed nearly $110 million in projects from the capital outlay bill. The 530 vetoed projects included proposed school improvements, tribal building repairs, road renovations, street signs and much more.
The BCSO projects were to have been funded through severance tax bonds, as were the majority of the 11 projects for other sheriff’s offices around the state that did receive funding.
Several other sheriff’s offices across the state received between $50,000 and $423,000 – the majority of which went to purchase vehicles. The Taos County Sheriff’s Office was the only other department to not receive its appropriation.