A recent audit of Albuquerque's public safety tax has raised concerns about appropriate spending practices.
According to KRQE, the city’s Office of Internal Audit released a report near the end of June that examined how the city government has spent the so-called quarter-cent tax. The tax has been in effect since 2004 and is meant to fund law enforcement efforts. In 2008, the Public Safety Tax Advisory Board was created by the City Council to oversee how the tax money was spent, but auditors found that the board was never staffed. It was also discovered that in budget years 2017 and 2018, under the watch of Mayor Richard Berry, about $3 million to $4 million from funds earmarked to go to Albuquerque's family and community services department for “crime prevention and intervention” did not go to those projects. The report also criticized the use of the term “crime prevention and intervention,” calling it a “broad, undefined term.”
Mayor Tim Keller's office reportedly said the city will be creating the tax advisory board within a year.
Mixed Results on Scooter Report
The first monthly report on Albuquerque's new electric scooters was submitted last week, and city leaders say that they are confident about the program—despite the fact that some of the vehicles have gone missing.
According to KOAT, Planning Director Brennon Williams said the city is “cautiously optimistic that the numbers that we have been presented from the company speaks well of their 30 days here in Albuquerque.” Each month, scooter company Zagster is required to submit reports on scooter usage to the city. This was the first of those reports. According to the report, more than 20,000 scooter trips were taken in Albuquerque, and the average trip was 32 minutes long.
However, 156 maintenance tickets were submitted over the month, and police are investigating 17 missing scooters. It is believed the scooters—which were outfitted with GPS trackers—were stolen or vandalized.
Child Care Proposal Postponed
The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has postponed a hearing on a proposal to further limit income requirements for child care assistance.
Last month, CYFD proposed a change to income requirements that would only allow families at or below 160 percent of the federal poverty level to receive state assistance with child care and preschool costs. The agency claimed it wanted to make the change because it didn't receive enough legislative funding during the last session.
The Associated Press reports that CYFD is obligated to hold public hearings before making requirement changes as the result of a class action lawsuit against the agency. A hearing for the proposal was scheduled this week in Santa Fe, but officials announced that it would be postponed. A new date has not been announced.
Current rules require families to be at 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level to qualify for the program.