Albuquerque city leaders are asking for $50 million in gross receipts tax revenue bonds to reconstruct the Paseo del Norte and I-25 interchange.
New Mexico doesn’t have a sales tax exactly. We have a gross receipts tax imposed on people selling goods and services. In almost all cases, the tax is passed on to the consumer. All of the Paseo bonds would be issued based on the expectation of that gross receipts tax revenue. (Property taxes will not increase for this project.)
Mayor Richard Berry tried to push his pet sports complex through during the last election by partnering it with the Paseo and I-25 rebuild. Voters said no to both. Conservative city councilors have said a $1 minimum wage increase will bloat the city payroll. If money is that tight, then why are we spending so much on this intersection? We should be moving the city away from an expensive, car-centric culture into a future with better public transportation.
As roads are expanded, more drivers jump into their vehicles instead of finding other ways to get around, which actually compounds the problem. Bigger roads simply attract more vehicles.
Berry says a revamped interchange will bring in businesses. Does he mean more strip malls? The city does not need any more unsustainable sprawl. Promoting infill is a much better idea. A minor tweak of ramps and access routes through better traffic engineering—along with more public transportation options—could be all that needs to be done to decrease commuter time, crashes and pollution.
It’s an unpopular opinion—one that even left-leaning politicians won’t support during election season. Promising to fix potholes and make the daily commute easier gets people elected.
Another point to consider: Paseo del Norte is state road. I-25 is part of the federal highway system, which is funded by a tax on gas. So why is the city paying so much for this? Look at the breakdown: Bernalillo County might chip in $5 million if Bond 5 (further down the ballot) is passed. The state would cough up $30 million. And about $9 million would come from federal and regional funding. Albuquerque would pay $50 million—that's more than half.
The Alibi cannot get behind this bond.