ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city is showing a clearer picture of where public safety tax dollars are going. Of every $100 spent by Albuquerque shoppers, about 38 cents goes to the 3/8 hold harmless tax passed by the city council in 2018.
Most of that money ends up at the Albuquerque Police Department to supplement what it’s already getting from the general fund. The police union says that while that money is helping retain officers with raises and equipment, they still need a lot more.
“We need to continue down the road of ensuring we have a police department that is adequately staffed to help the needs of this community. And, until we successfully complete that task, crime is not going to go down,” Shaun Willoughby with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association said.
Of the more than $46 million generated from this tax from the budget year ending last summer 74% of it, about $34 million, went to public safety. Approximately $11 million of that was budgeted for APD recruitment and officer retention, including raises.
Moving forward, Willoughby said APD will need salary raises and equipment to stay competitive with other departments in the southwest region, like Las Vegas and Phoenix. He said as many as 143 officers could retire from the department in the next 16 months.
In this tax, there is a clause expiring in July that requires at least 60-percent of the money to go toward public safety. City Councilor Klarissa Pena said it’s unclear if there will be a big change in where the money would go, but she’s sure addressing the city’s crime problem will stay a priority.
“Whether city councilors want to put something forward that actually says that it continues, I’m sure the community, if it’s intended for public safety, that’s what they want it to go for,” Pena explained.
The mayor’s office said as they hire more police officers, the percentage of this tax allocated for public safety is only expected to go up. They still have a goal of hiring 100 officers each year for the next two and a half years.
The police union said the department currently has 950 officers. APD’s starting salary is set at $60,000.