Today the Journal begins its 2021 endorsements by recommending a “yes” vote on the city of Albuquerque’s 11 proposed general obligation bonds. Tax rates would not go up if these GO bonds are approved because they would replace other bonds that are being retired. Rates could go down — a whopping $2.03 per month on a home valued at $150,000 — if the bonds were defeated.
But take a look at the extensive projects these bonds would fund, the continued improvements to the hardscape of our city, and we think you will agree that while $2.03 won’t even buy you a fancy cup of coffee, it would buy a whole lot of lasting upgrades across the metro area. A full list with details is at cabq.gov.
PUBLIC SAFETY – $24.7 MILLION
These bonds will buy new fire engines, ladder trucks and ambulances; get Fire Station 12 built in the East Gateway area, add a bay to Fire Station 18 in Taylor Ranch, improve the Southeast Area Command substation and upgrade other APD facilities; and build a Public Safety Center near San Mateo and Kathryn SE. It also covers smaller public safety projects in seven of the nine council districts.
SENIOR, FAMILY, COMMUNITY CENTER, HOMELESS AND COMMUNITY ENHANCEMENT – $28.4 MILLION
These bonds include improvements to multiple senior and multigenerational centers across the city – Manzano Mesa, Palo Duro, Loma Linda, Joan Jones and Snow Park – and construction of new Cibola Loop, Westgate and West Side centers. There’s also $2 million to add to the $14 million already allocated for the planned Gateway Center to deal with the homeless crisis. Smaller projects in all nine council districts are also included.
This bond also includes $500,000 to “improve homeless encampment facilities.” The Journal Editorial Board has supported the Gateway Center and been critical of efforts that provide defacto approval of encampments; this piece, while not enough to negate the importance of the bond, will require close oversight as it is implemented so it does not normalize tent cities.
PARKS AND REC – $27.2 MILLION
This bond covers a lot of ground – from open space acquisition, bosque restoration and work on the city’s aging tree canopy to improvements at Balloon Fiesta Park and the city’s three golf courses. There’s a new park planned for Wells Park, a new indoor sports complex in the works, a dog park at Pat Hurley and pickleball courts in District 1. There are also security upgrades, and eight of the council districts have smaller projects included.
The $3.5 million allocated to a pool at North Domingo Baca, while absolutely needed, reveals how sadly piecemeal our funding system is. The aquatic center would fill a serious void – there is no indoor city pool north of Candelaria – and it will provide recreation, rehabilitation and competition opportunities for all ages. Yet this bond will still leave the project, which was promised to residents 16 years ago, at less than one-third funded. The mayor and councilors need to take a hard look going forward on ensuring fewer projects are fully funded and thus finished rather than many proposed and waiting in the wings.
ENERGY AND WATER CONSERVATION, PUBLIC FACILITIES, SYSTEM MODERNIZATION – $15.9 MILLION
These projects include security, technology and cyber security upgrades, new air quality monitoring equipment, work on the Los Angeles landfill to capture contaminants, roof and building repairs, and new equipment and vehicles for the animal shelters.
LIBRARY – $4.1 MILLION
While some might dismiss books as old school, our city libraries offer those plus music, video and audio books, DVDs, CDs, portable digital devices, databases, periodicals, electronic resources and more. They help keep our community connected and proved invaluable during the pandemic. These bonds will help keep these offerings current plus repair roofs, HVAC units, fire suppression systems and other building infrastructure.
STREET – $21.8 MILLION
This is one of the nuts-and-bolts responsibilities of local government. This bond includes major paving, intersection signalization, traffic sign and pavement marking, bridge repair, median and interstate landscaping and sidewalk projects. Specific projects listed include work on McMahon over the Calabacillas Arroyo, Coors and Unser median landscaping, and improvements to the Market and Ladera intersection. The city will also build a storage facility for salt used to winterize streets and put 5% of the total toward trails and bikeways. Smaller projects for six of the council districts are included as well.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION – $1.1 MILLION
This smaller bond mentions bus station, bus stop, transit technology and park-and-ride upgrades.
STORM SEWER – $4.6 MILLION
They aren’t as exciting as some of the other bonds, but we all rely on our storm sewers to work as designed. This bond includes a South Broadway Master Plan, flood mitigation and retrofits for equipment to ensure water quality.
MUSEUM AND CULTURAL FACILITIES – $3.9 MILLION
Projects here include repair, renovations and remodels of the Balloon Museum, the KiMo and South Broadway theaters, the Albuquerque Museum, Casa San Ysidro and Explora.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING – $3.3 MILLION
This bond would pay to “plan, design, acquire land and construct affordable housing.”
METROPOLITAN REDEVELOPMENT – $4.5 MILLION
This bond will encourage redevelopment in challenged areas of the city to “enrich the cultural, recreational, educational, civic and entertainment environment and encourage economic development.” Work at the Railyards accounts for more than half the allocation.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.