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Bond Package Moves Forward

SANTA FE, N.M. — The city’s Public Works Committee on Monday refined and moved forward a $30 million bond package that would slightly increase property taxes.

The bond’s list of proposed projects includes police and fire infrastructure, a solar energy venture at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center, arroyo improvements and a regional park in southwest Santa Fe.

The cash allocated to each enterprise remains in flux. Committee members on Monday, for instance, transferred $2 million from a multi-modal center and depot renovation at the Santa Fe Railyard to affordable housing initiatives and trail crossings work on St. Francis Drive.

“I think we’ll get more of an economic boost, especially in affordable housing, if we move in that direction,” Santa Fe Mayor David Coss said.

Councilors have until Nov. 30 to put a bond proposal on the March 6 municipal election ballot.

It’s likely projects will be presented to voters as three questions under the categories of: public safety; energy efficiency, economic development and transit improvements; and quality of life, parks and water security improvements.

The amount of a property tax increase would depend on how many categories are approved by voters. If all three pass, for instance, the owner of a $300,000 house would pay an extra $70 a year.

About 14 people, including union representatives and business owners, spoke in favor of the bond at a public hearing Monday. There was one dissenter.

“This resolution will protect jobs. It will create jobs. It will improve quality of life,” Alfred Matter, manager of the Eldorado Hotel, said. The hotel’s tax increase wouldn’t be a hardship, he said.

Separately, the Public Works Committee approved a $20 million bond for capital improvement projects. That bond will be funded using gross receipts tax revenue, something normally done by the city about every two years.

Proposed projects for the CIP bond include infrastructure maintenance, new buses, arts funding, improvements to the Santa Fe Railyard, and matching funds for federal money allocated to the airport and transit.

Committee members spent much of Monday night discussing how to ensure that Santa Fe businesses receive most of the work funded by the bonds.

“If the intent of these bonds is to create jobs and stimulate the local economy, then we need to make sure we’re stimulating our economy and not Albuquerque’s,” Councilor Chris Calvert said.

Legally, the safest way to do that is through the local preference provision in Santa Fe’s procurement law, city attorney Geno Zamora said. The city already gives Santa Fe businesses the advantage of a 10 percent discount on bid amounts of $50,000 or more for city contracts, but it’s possible that could be increased.

Councilors agreed to look at possible procurement code amendments, though the matter will be kept separate from the bonds.

Other ideas discussed included doing the possibility of doing a bond with a Santa Fe bank instead of an out-of-state institution.

“One of the things that makes Santa Fe so wonderful is the fact that in the past we’ve invested in this community. We can’t stop investing in this community,” Councilor Carmichael Dominguez said. “This is an effort to not only invest in this community, but in the future.”

Busking changes

In other news, the Public Works Committee approved an ordinance mandating that street performers are forbidden to sell items except “audio recordings, video recordings, handmade items or written materials that relate to their performance.”

The ordinance also puts into place an administrative procedure to strip or suspend a busker license from someone believed to breaking those rules. Buskers will have the right to appeal the decision to the city’s Finance Committee.