Poll confuses funding for Albuquerque stadium project

Voters in Albuquerque may be confused as to how a proposed football stadium will be funded, as the ballot measure includes inconsistent language about funding the city’s $ 50 million stadium bond proposal.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the ballot – in use since early voting began on Oct. 5 – initially describes the funding for the project as coming from the “gross revenue tax obligations,” known as the GRT.

However, where voters mark their ballot refers to general bond bonds, known as GOs, which are a different funding mechanism paid for with property taxes.

Officials said they did not know how the confusion came about and that it did not pose a legal problem.

Critics of the neighborhood where the stadium could possibly be built and other residents said the city should use the money earmarked for the stadium’s construction to tackle other issues such as crime and the record rate of homicides in Albuquerque.

The New Mexico United professional football team would be the main tenant of the site and would lease the stadium to the city. The team contributed $ 840,000 in cash and over $ 28,000 more through in-kind goods and services to New Mexico United for All, a political action committee promoting the link with an advertising blitz.

The committee was the biggest fundraiser and spender in the municipal elections, in which voters will also choose the mayor, some city councilors and school board members. Voting ends on November 2.

The city plans to pledge part of its TSO – an assessed tax on the sale of goods and services – to make annual payments on the $ 50 million it would borrow to build the stadium.

While Mayor Tim Keller’s administration has said it will only continue with the stadium if voters approve the allocation of money, GRT bonds – unlike GO bonds – do not technically require voter approval.

The city spent around $ 13 million per year on its existing GRT bond debt, but recently paid off some of those bonds. This freed up about $ 4 million a year, which officials said they could apply to the stadium’s new debt if voters approved the $ 50 million bond.

The stadium’s new debt would require payments of around $ 3 million per year for 25 years.

New Mexico United has pledged $ 900,000 to the city each year to use the stadium. The team also said they would pay $ 10 million for the construction.

Some critics have argued that the team owners are wealthy and don’t need a subsidized project. Others fear that the project will harm surrounding neighborhoods by causing noise and traffic.

“I have learned to be wary of our political processes which too often ask voters for a quick ‘yes’ with the promise to take community concerns into account later, only to find out once the ‘yes’ is given. there is no reason to continue to work diligently with the community to address concerns, ”said Jon Moore, pastor of First United Methodist Church.

The city must enter into a “community benefits agreement” with the team and the affected neighborhood before a stadium is built. The Barelas Neighborhood Association and the Barelas Community Coalition representing residents near one of the favorite stadium venues released a statement stressing the importance of the deal.

But some opponents still wonder if the neighborhoods would be really protected even with the deal. Frances Armijo, from the South Broadway neighborhood, also near a proposed stadium site, said she believed residents near the two favorite venues were “sacrificial lambs.”

“ABC or no ACA, once the damage is done, the damage is done,” she said.

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Michael J. Birnbaum

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