KOAT Channel 7 recently did an excellent story about the propensity of cities throughout New Mexico to make big payouts to citizens who have been denied access to basic public records. The Rio Grande Foundation has won multiple lawsuits including one against the City of Albuquerque but we are not alone. The City of Albuquerque’s taxpayers have paid out more than $330,000 over the Keller Administration’s repeated denial of public records.
While RGF is pleased by Albuquerque voters’ overwhelming rejection of the proposal to build a taxpayer-financed soccer stadium near downtown, we recognized all along that the Team was not going to give up their quest for a new stadium.
Channel 7 KOAT laid out some ideas including potential stadium locations on tribal lands. RGF expects that, given the massive surpluses available to the Legislature and Gov. Lujan Grisham, we could see significant state dollars used to fund a stadium even if Albuquerque voters have rejected the concept.
Early voting at the county clerks’ offices is taking place now. A new poll says that overwhelming majorities of Albuquerque voters are against the use of taxpayer dollars to finance the stadium.
While gratified by this news, we recognize that polls are often inaccurate and that the only poll that REALLY matters is the actual election. So, with this stadium and numerous other important issues on the ballot, be sure to GO VOTE (and bring a friend or family member)!
Check out the discussion Gessing recently had with KOAT Channel 7 here.
As discussed in a recent blog post here there is an Albuquerque Public Schools property tax issue on voters’ ballots this November. As seen below the ballot language certainly seems to indicate a property tax increase, but in this story for which RGF talked to KOAT Channel 7, APS claims it is NOT a tax hike.
We looked extensively on the APS website and found nothing, nor does the full ballot text on our sample ballot (find yours here) have any clues.
In their quest for a new soccer stadium, the New Mexico United have released a new TV ad. We haven’t seen the ad on local TV yet, but you can see it for yourself in this KOAT 7 story. RGF president Paul Gessing adds a bit of balance to the story near the end.
Aside from the usual claims about “jobs” and civic pride the ad relies heavily on the idea that the ballot measure is a “bond” that doesn’t raise taxes. Of course, that is akin to saying that a family should put all of its spending on a credit card because they aren’t actually spending anything right away.
Bonds require taxes in order to be paid off. In this case it is going to require gross receipts tax revenues. And, other priorities like law enforcement and roads will receive fewer dollars than they otherwise would. Finally, of course, taxes COULD go down in the absent of the stadium.
With Albuquerque voters largely skeptical of the proposed taxpayer-funded United Soccer Stadium, the team has decided to pledge $10 million towards the facility.
RGF’s president Paul Gessing weighs in on this development in this story. Gessing’s comment for this story is limited to saying that the team should fund “a majority” of the stadium that will cost at least $70 million and will likely cost up to $100 million based on numerous unknown factors including construction materials and the unknown location of the proposed stadium.
Needless to say $10 million is nowhere near half of the stadium’s cost.
Of course, there remain so many unknowns surrounding this project including the actual site. The Foundation has previously discussed numerous additional issues with the proposed facility.
RGF’s Paul Gessing recently sat down with KOAT TV Channel 7 to discuss financial details for the proposed New Mexico United Soccer stadium. There are more questions than answers at this point in the discussion which is unfortunate given that voters probably won’t have much more information than what is currently known when they go to the polls in November.
The time duration of the bond is ONE question discussed in the story, but the location of the stadium, final cost of the project, and source of money for the difference between the $50 million bond and the final cost which will be no less than $70 million and perhaps much more are unknown.
In this story Councilor Davis asserts that the “gap” between the $50 million bond and the final cost of the stadium could be somehow filled by leveraging lease payments from the team. Of course no lease payment mechanism has been agreed to at this point, so these are purely speculative statements by Davis both on the payments themselves as well as what, if anything, those could pay for.
Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton is in hot water and resigned over serious allegations of money laundering. Over a decade ago the Rio Grande Foundation questioned the practice of naming public facilities after elected officials. KOB TV interviewed RGF president Paul Gessing about the issue. Watch the full story here:
The good news is that Fox Business Channel (unlike many news outlets) actually gave a platform to critics of New Mexico’s film subsidy program to discuss the program’s financial shortcomings.
The bad news is that like nearly all media outlets they badly misunderstand the financial implications of New Mexico’s incredibly-generous film subsidy program. Check out the story below which includes a brief clip of RGF president Paul Gessing discussing Hollywood film subsidies. Along with the Youtube story is a page from a 2019 Legislative Finance Committee report on the cost of Hollywood subsidies which provides details on the direct subsidies (not additional LEDA funds which are yet another subsidy).
Recently, RGF’s president was walking downtown and noticed the Hyatt Hotel downtown was completely closed to the public. Physical entry to the property was impossible and his phone calls were not returned.
Ultimately, it came to light thanks to an Albuquerque Journal article that the hotel was closed due to a lack of convention business AND that the City of Albuquerque had filed tax liens against several properties for lack of payment of lodgers taxes. The Rio Grande Foundation has expressed concerns in the recent past about lodgers taxesand agrees that reform is needed, BUT if the business is collecting the tax from its customers, they should be remitted.
Check out the story here and by clicking the image below: