At Bernalillo County we're good stewards of tax dollars - Albuquerque Journal

At Bernalillo County we’re good stewards of tax dollars

Julie Morgas Baca

The current Bernalillo County administration accepts full responsibility for the settlement associated with the sale of excess parcels of land the county purchased in the 1990s as part of the Paseo del Norte extension, which was in a preliminary design phase. It is common to secure necessary surrounding land for large-scale road projects for right-of-way or preservation. The county later used the proceeds of the sale of some of the parcels to help fund the Isleta Boulevard Phase 2 project. While this action is allowable under state and federal programs, the question became whether approval of this was fully granted by the oversight agencies.

It would be difficult to fully understand the intentions from 30 years ago, but we understand today the value of our relationships with the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the federal government and were able to come to an amicable agreement about restoration of the funds, which will now be reinvested in road projects throughout the state. Bernalillo County would have had to provide the nonfederal match 30 years ago with local funds, just like we’re correcting the erroneous use of federal funds then by using local funds now to pay NMDOT. This error caused no negative fiscal impact on taxpayers nor on Bernalillo County finances, in 1993 nor in 2023.

We have been dependable and reliable partners to NMDOT and the federal government over the years, and it has produced exceptional results. By leveraging our funding and having access to matching funds, the county has been able to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in vital and well-developed infrastructure projects with support from the community. The projects have ensured improvement, safety and compliance and encouraged economic growth. Some recent projects include the Sunport Boulevard Extension, Woodward Road Reconstruction, Bridge Boulevard Reconstruction and the Alameda Drain Trail.

We have been and continue to be conscientious stewards of taxpayer dollars. The county is structurally balanced following strong financial policies and spending based on sustainable levels of revenue while maintaining adequate reserves. The county has kept a triple-A bond rating from all three rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch, despite recent economic downturns.

I would also point out, despite the implication by the Journal made in its editorial, Bernalillo County does not “want to run your electric utility.” Senate Bill 165 as the proposed enabling legislation never made it to the floor for a vote by the New Mexico Senate. The resolution passed by the commission was simply a statement affirming the current county commission’s support for sustainability and renewable energy in the context of that proposed bill. We support the electricity providers who operate in all areas of the county and work cooperatively with them.

Bernalillo County, the most-populous county in the state, has consistently provided effective, timely and necessary services. As needs of the communities change, we will continue that legacy in an innovative and responsible manner.

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