Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Police cars, roof repairs and city employee hazard pay are on Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s list of proposed stimulus money expenditures. So, too, is Downtown lighting and a boxing gym expansion.
With almost $114 million in federal COVID-19 relief money coming the city’s way, Keller has released a plan for how he would like the city to spend the first installment. That includes $9.5 million for the Albuquerque Police Department, its equipment and facilities; $8 million for business grants, and $3 million in hazard pay for essential city employees, according to the proposal Keller sent this week to the City Council.
The mayor’s plan also includes building improvements and energy efficiency updates at several city facilities, including the Albuquerque Convention Center and the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum.
The plan also would aid more vulnerable populations with $4.2 million for people excluded from other stimulus programs, and $1.3 million for a range of services related to housing and domestic violence.
The package totals nearly $57 million – half the local government support the city will get through the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill Congress passed in March.
The city is expected to get the first $57 million within a month and the second half at a later date.
Keller is also proposing the city use $3.4 million from a separate ARPA allocation to plan, design and build affordable housing.
“The Albuquerque Rescue Plan is about building back Burque,” Keller said in a statement announcing his proposal. “Now, we can increase our support for local businesses and families, while creating good jobs with New Deal-style infrastructure investments.”
Many line items in Keller’s proposal are described only generally, such as $1 million for “tourism, placemaking and beautification” and $200,000 for “bike and walking trail repairs.”
Others are attached to more specific areas, such as:
⋄ $1.3 million for the Jack Candelaria Community Center youth boxing gym expansion
⋄ $1 million for Downtown lighting improvements
⋄ $900,000 for a Tingley Beach splash pad and other upgrades
“The administration designed the plan to provide direct assistance to the families and businesses struggling to get through this, while boosting our long term recovery through investments in every part of town for key priorities like public safety and sustainability,” mayoral spokeswoman Lorena Sanchez said in an email to the Journal.
ARPA is just the latest round of federal relief benefitting the city. Last spring, Albuquerque received $150 million through the CARES Act. The city used most of it to cover personnel costs – largely in the police and fire departments – but also made grants to businesses, nonprofits and vulnerable populations.
The city did not use CARES money for employee hazard pay in 2020, and Sanchez said the city is awaiting federal guidance on which city employees qualify as essential for the ARPA hazard disbursements. Until then, she said, it is unclear how many city employees would qualify and how much they may receive.
Keller’s proposal remains subject to City Council approval.