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City Reveals $50M Bond Proposal To Boost Local Economy

SANTA FE, N.M. — Municipal officials on Monday unveiled a nearly $50 million bond plan they say could create jobs and boost local economic development.

But, if voters agree with the full amount, it also could hike property taxes.

Under a resolution discussed by the city’s Public Works Committee, the city would issue a $20 million bond for capital improvement projects using gross receipts tax revenue.

A separate $30 million general obligation bond would require voters to agree to a small property tax increase. The owner of a home worth $300,000 would pay an extra $71 a year, for instance.

“We wanted to start this discussion first on the $20 million list … but then also ask the community, whether it’s business, labor, environmental groups, neighborhood groups and this council, are there other investments that make sense to make now?” Mayor David Coss said.

The Public Works Committee didn’t take immediate action Monday, other than to ask city staff to separate the bonds proposals. That will allow the city to move forward quickly with the $20 million bond while spending more time refining the $30 million proposal.

“I’d like to separate the two and the one could move along a faster track and get into the economy quicker,” Councilor Chris Calvert said. “Then we need to have this longer discussion about what exactly is going to get into (the $30 million bond) so it has a proper airing and reception before going to voters.”

The City Council has until late November to put a bond proposal on the March 2012 municipal election ballot.

A draft released Monday lists 45 potential bond projects.

There are 35 proposed undertakings for the CIP bond, including $11.6 million for infrastructure maintenance. The bond could also pay for new buses, arts funding, improvements to the Interfaith Shelter and Santa Fe Railyard, and provide matching funds for federal money allocated to the airport, roads and transit.

All together, the new proposal is estimated at $22.6 million, which will need to be pared down.

Santa Fe typically issues such a CIP bond about once every two years, though officials skipped last year because of weak tax revenue.

For the general obligation bond, 10 projects worth $26.5 million are up for consideration.

They include: $5 million to build a regional park in southwest Santa Fe; $5 million for a visitors center at the Santa Fe Railyard; $3 million for park improvements; $2.5 million for public safety equipment; $2.5 million for a new fire station to serve newly annexed territory; $2 million for broadband infrastructure; $2 million to build a solar energy system at a still-undetermined city facility; $2 million for arroyo improvements; $1.5 million to expand Police Department headquarters; and $1 million for affordable housing initiatives.

“If we want to be a viable community we’ve got to keep up with the times,” Councilor Ron Trujillo said. “If we want to move this city forward, it’s going to take money.”