Sprinkle some money here; toss a little over there. Albuquerque City Councilors cultivated a $531.4 million city operating budget during a five-hour regular meeting May 15.
It took 15 amendments—and a couple of hours of debate—for Councilors to get the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget in shape to pass on an 8 to 1 vote. Councilor Dan Lewis cast the lone nay vote saying the budget doesn’t do enough to support the police. Mayor Richard Berry’s office sent the Council a $529.6 million budget that did not include pay raises for many city-employed, non-public safety employees making more than $30,000 annually. The Council’s budget included $1.2 million to hire 25 police service aides, $2.5 million for new police cars, $6.6 million in raises, along with $4 million for police longevity pay, a 3 percent raise for firefighters, and a 1 percent raise for AFSCME union employees. Other quick budget highlights include: $202,000 for economic development programs such as several MainStreet initiatives, Southwest Community Economic Development and Think Big/Westfest; $158,000 for community programs Amigos y Amigas, Warehouse 508, Serenity Mesa and others; $933,000 to be split among a couple dozen cultural programs like Downtown Arts and Cultural District, Albuquerque Pride Fest, Friends of Public Art, ¡Globalquerque! and many others. This budget must be signed by the mayor to go in effect July 1. For more budget excitement log on to www.cabq.gov/
Councilors proclaimed Friday, June 2, as Gun Violence Awareness Day. The Council encouraged citizens to wear orange and to participate in events planned for Saturday, June 3, at Harwood Art Center. Per the proclamation, there are an average of 93 gun deaths every day nationwide with another 200 non-fatal gun violence incidents daily. And New Mexico has a gun violence rate 40 percent higher than national average, according to the proclamation’s sponsors.
The community center at Wells Park will get a new sculpture and a new name. Councilors approved renaming it the Johnny Tapia Community Center at Wells Park. Steve Weems is the artist of the piece, titled “Boxing Victory Celebration,” that will be at the center of the area meeting place. Tapia is a five-time world champion boxer who died in 2012. Members of Tapia’s family spoke at the Council meeting. Tapia’s widow, Teresa Tapia, said Johnny loved Albuquerque and Wells Park, telling the gathered citizens and Councilors that the boxer proudly represented his hometown around the world.
Councilors approved adding Ruby Tafoya’s name to the Louis Tafoya Community room at the Westside police station. Councilor Ken Sanchez said this should have been done at the same time as the first renaming because Ruby worked tirelessly alongside her husband, Louis, to make the Westside a safer place for all. One of Tafoya’s daughters thanked the Council for adding her mother’s name because she was her father’s partner and interpreter. She added that if the Council really wanted to honor the Tafoyas, they should take a look at Lavaland park near 64th Street and Avalon. She said the park her parents worked so hard to clean up has fallen back into the hands of bad people and needs the city’s help in getting cleaned up.
Kudos go to a half dozen folks who were appointed to various city board and commissions. These citizens and their appointments are: William Q. Sabatini to the Arts Board; Meaghan Cavanaugh to the Urban Enhancement Trust Fund; Matthew W. Wylie to the Joint Air Quality Board; Hugh W. Floyd to the Technical Standard Committee; Carlos Lucero to the Albuquerque Energy Council and Pat Sanchez to the Housing and Neighborhood Economic Development Committee. For more information on the city’s volunteer boards and commission, log on to the city website that details duties and appointments to these important organizations.
Dinah Vargas spoke about the situation along the east Central corridor that has come into being due to the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. Vargas works with the city’s homeless and said that this vulnerable population has greatly increased during ART construction, causing a crisis.
“We should do better, and I don’t know why we are not,” she said. When the crowd clapped in support, President Isaac Benton reprimanded them, reminding citizens that public outbursts are now allowed.
• RMKM Architecture, P.C. was awarded a bid for architectural consulting to design the planned International District Library Facility.
• Councilors approved setting aside money to work with Bernalillo County on a shared behavioral health center.
• The Council amended the city’s animal welfare ordinance to relax the requirement for a fire suppression system to be installed in old buildings that may be purchased for animal shelter uses. President Benton said this is to allow for more shelters to open and to expand into older buildings around the city.
Councilors postponed a measure to establish a protocol for criminal investigations of police shootings and in custody deaths until the Aug. 21 meeting.