ABQ stadium bond question is botched - Albuquerque Journal

ABQ stadium bond question is botched

New Mexico United plays the Hartford Athletic at Isotopes Park this month. A ballot question seeking funding to build a new stadium is flawed. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

If you find yourself confused about exactly how the city would pay for its proposed multiuse soccer stadium, you are not alone.

Not even the ballot for the Nov. 2 election has the details right.

The ballot – used since early voting began Oct. 5 – contains inconsistent language about the nature of the city’s $50 million stadium bond proposal.

It initially describes the project financing as “gross receipts tax revenue bonds.” That is accurate; the city plans to pledge some of its GRT – a tax assessed on the sale of goods and services – to make annual payments on the $50 million it would borrow for the stadium.

But the wording changes in the spot where voters actually mark their ballots.

Voters have the choice between filling in an oval that says they are “for general obligation bonds” or an oval indicating they are “against general obligation bonds.”

GO bonds are a different financing mechanism paid off with property taxes.

While Mayor Tim Keller’s administration has said it would pursue the stadium only if voters approved the money this fall, GRT bonds – unlike GO bonds – do not technically require voter approval.

That makes the ballot mistake less problematic, officials say. It is more of an advisory matter.

“The question on the ballot as written does not pose a legal issue because it will advise the City regarding the voter’s perspective on whether the City should issue bonds to build a multi-use stadium,” City Attorney Esteban Aguilar Jr. said in a written response to Journal questions about the mistake.

The Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office, which is conducting the election, referred questions to County Attorney Ken Martinez.

Martinez said he did not know where the breakdown occurred but believes it might be because a GRT revenue bond is unusual, while GO bond questions are far more common. The city puts GO bonds on the ballot every other year seeking voter approval for infrastructure projects such as fire stations, roads and parks. The Nov. 2 ballot, in fact, features 11 city GO bond questions totaling $140 million.

“It may be the first time the question’s been presented this way, so that there’s no prior language about (gross receipts tax revenue bonds) in the system,” Martinez said. “I don’t know, and I’m not trying to blame anybody.”

He said that it is likely too late to correct the ballot because voting already has begun but that he’s made a note to himself to ensure the election system has another, accurate template available for potential future GRT revenue bonds in the future.

How is the city planning to fund the stadium?

The city has been spending about $13 million a year on existing GRT bond debt but recently paid off some of those bonds. That freed up about $4 million per year, which officials say they could apply toward new stadium debt if the voters approve the $50 million bond.

The new stadium debt would require payments of about $3 million annually for 25 years.

The New Mexico United soccer team – which would be the stadium’s primary tenant through a lease with the city – has pledged to pay $900,000 to the city annually to use it. The team also has said it would pay $10 million upfront toward the stadium’s construction.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » ABQ stadium bond question is botched

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

Cannon PFAS destroyed longtime Clovis farmer's dairy
ABQnews Seeker
State estimates put the farm's revenue ... State estimates put the farm's revenue losses and increased expenses at more than $5.9 million
Tainted peanut butter nearly kills retired Sunport canine 'ambassador'
ABQnews Seeker
The Jif she had eaten was ... The Jif she had eaten was apparently contaminated with salmonella bacteria
Soundtrack to summer: The songs of Isotopes Park
ABQnews Seeker
Dozens of songs make up the ... Dozens of songs make up the soundtrack of Isotopes Park -- keeping fans engaged whether the home team is doing 'So good! So good!' ...
Study: Areas may be at risk of floods, ash ...
ABQnews Seeker
US Forest Service officials warn of ... US Forest Service officials warn of increased danger
Detectives looking for murder suspect
ABQnews Seeker
Man, 22, accused of gunning down ... Man, 22, accused of gunning down acquaintance last week
4 candidates vie for GOP nomination in Bernalillo County ...
2022 election
BCSO employs 458 staff, 305 ... BCSO employs 458 staff, 305 being sworn deputies; office is largest in the state
Crews gain 50% containment on Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire
ABQnews Seeker
Crews mapped out hotspots, official says Crews mapped out hotspots, official says
Navajo sign water rights settlement with Utah and feds
ABQnews Seeker
Federal officials signed an agreement with ... Federal officials signed an agreement with leaders of the Navajo Nation on Friday that provides funding for clean drinking water infrastructure for reservation residents ...
Veterans celebrated with Honor Flight
ABQnews Seeker
25 to be taken on a ... 25 to be taken on a free trip to visit memorials