Friday, April 18, 2014

Berry Proposed Tax Hike

Mayor Berry is now being stealthy on something other than APD.  He is proposing a tax hike by disguising it as a hike in the cost of collecting refuse in the city.  The city's excellent trash collection system has functioned well over the years because it has paid for itself by running as an enterprise fund.  A business if you will.  Fees for hauling away your refuse paid for the cost of doing so without any siphoning of that money to other non related projects.

Now the city is going to start charging more for collections in order to stay even with expenses and go to a system where the less trash  you have the less  you pay.  That is fine and should be done.  But tucked away in that proposal is siphoning away money to pay for street median maintenance. That is a show stopper because it is nothing more than hiding an expense that the general fund would normally take care of.  What is next?  Using Solid Waste Department revenues to pay off all of the APD lawsuits?

Actually, if one follows some logic that is what exactly is happening here as the lawsuits on APD for all the killings bit into the general funds of the city.  You can be assured that the city, which funds its own insurance pool and risk fund, is sucking more and more dollars away from other city departments.  And this hidden tax the Mayor wants to charge is the first indication that financial shell games are in play.  We have passed special taxes already to fund street maintenance in Albuquerque.  My administration first did that in 1999 by going to the voters for a quarter percent gross receipts tax increase.  The public approved.  If Berry needs more tax income he should be upfront about it.

And, is it true all median maintenance was outsourced to a private firm and what was their relationship to Berry?


Realist said...

Good post. The last thing we need is to obfuscate even more how government works and is funded (and therefor have an even less well informed voting public).

I propose a new rule, if the city has to payout over 1 million dollars in our money (money that could be going to schools, etc.), and names lack of oversight as part of the explanation for the large suit amount, then the people who were supposed to be providing the oversight should be automatically fired.

Anonymous said...

Berry's increase in the City refuse collection is nothing compared to what taxpayers are going to be face with because of Berry's failed leadership and the increase in taxes that will be required by the City.

Berry is setting aside only $1 million for the DOJ reforms in his FY/15 budget. DOJ reforms in Seattle cost $7 million a year and in New Orleans they cost $10-$12 million a year for 5 years. Albuquerque will now be faced with such funding requirements with no recurring revenue source.

Berry is asking for another $3 million in his FY/15 budget for the Risk Management Department to help cover police misconduct lawsuits. In the FY/15 budget, all the Departments are being assessed amounts to cover the increase. The problem is the $3 million will still not be enough cover the number of lawsuits filed and potential judgments.

Also, Berry went along with the repeal of the "hold harmless" provision by the legislature a year and a half ago. When the legislature repealed the gross receipts tax on food under Richardson, they enacted a hold harmless provision agreeing to reimburse the City for the lost gross receipts tax revenue. To fund the decrease in corporate taxes last year, the legislature repealed the hold harmless provision and Berry supported it despite the loss of revenue to the City. Berry went out of his way to compliment Senator John Author Smith on the repeal saying it was the way to go to attract new business. The repeal of the hold harmless provision will cost the City of Albuquerque $40 million a year in lost gross receipts revenues. The Council is still waiting for a final analysis of just how much the loss of the "hold harmless" is going to wind up costing the City in FY/15 and beyond.

Berry will never agree to tax increases and he does not care about maintaining essential services. His solution to make up for the revenue losses will to continue to gut City Hall of positions, cut the size of government and privatize where he can. Watch Berry to eventually move to privatize solid waste, transit and the airport. But I am sure our Republican business community are happy with this guy seeing that he raised $950,000 in 4 months for his re-election. The City Council better wake up.

Anonymous said...

The City Council better rescind Perry, Montano and Eden's pay raises. They all received double digit raises and their work performance sure doesn't explain why.

Berry doesn't have the courage to do it, does the council?

Latina from Nuevo Mexico said...

So what does the City Council do you ask? Here is the answer according to the City Charter - Article IV, Section 10:

The council shall:
(a) Be the judge of the election and qualification of its members;
(b) Establish and adopt by ordinance or resolution five-year goals and one-year objectives for the city, which goals and objectives shall be review[ed] and revised annually by the Council;
(c) Consult with the Mayor, seek advice from appropriate committees, commissions and boards, and hold one or more public hearings before adopting or revising the goals and objectives of the city;
(d) Review, approve or amend and approve all budgets of the city and adopt policies, plans, programs and legislation consistent with the goals and objectives established by the council'
(e) Preserve a merit system by ordinance;
(f) Hire the personnel necessary to enable the council to adequately perform its duties;
(g) Perform other duties not consistent with or as provided in this Charter; and

Councilor Harris likes to mutter to citizens that the council is limited in authority. I read paragraph H as forcing the Council to comply with all laws that affect the rights of the people.

It is our job, as citizens, to ensure that the Council does its job.

Bubba Muntzer said...

Ah, I wish you were editor of the Journal.

When I started as a reporter I was a blank slate, but began to be educated by experienced editors and older reporters, who had not only attended countless meetings and committee meeting but had had countless hours of conversation with people like you, who knew how government worked, who knew what to look for.

I began to sit in on the meetings and have the conversations myself, which are critical to understanding things, and to look through the old records, which are publicly accessible in most cases. But when I got out of it, my education essentially ceased.

Commenter Realist says, "The last thing we need is to obfuscate even more how government works and is funded (and therefor have an even less well informed voting public)."

I believe you, Jim, have commented about the need for professional journalists and whether the new media platforms springing up can replace the current system of informing the public. I know I have wondered.

You have many well informed and thoughtful commenters. Latina from Neuvo Mexico is an example. The two anonymous commenters here are, also.

Is there some way to translate the body of knowledge that exists out there into the more comprehensive coverage and analysis the traditional media can and should be providing?

Maybe something like a blogging clearinghouse, an association of bloggers, where their work is gathered and consolidated.

Still there's that dynamic where the closer you are to the source of the news, the more you know of it, and how it gets made, that I was once privvy to and described above. That's a full time job. Can that be duplicated?

Maybe with a staff, volunteer and/or paid, that can do follow ups, attend the meetings, have the conversations, spend the time.

The variety of reasons journalism is in decline are beyond this comment but need to be looked into, because in some ways, something like I've suggested is simply duplicating what already exists. Why isn't it working? There's a lot of information out there about that, too.

Jim Baca said...

Journalism is declining because corporate America sees value in that. There are fewer and fewer owners.....all taken over by the big guys with agendas other than informing the public.

Anonymous said...


Re: your blogging clearinghouse,

I'm working on this but with an expanded scope. Thanks to our incompetent leaders, there is a wealth of information far superior to the city's propaganda newspaper and other media outlets. In addition, the millenials know this and only use their customized media for information. It's a perfect storm ripe for the opportunity. Old-style media, you should have done your job! Do you really wonder why you are losing your audience?