ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s a fight over $12 million in the City of Albuquerque. A majority of city councilors voted to put the unspent money away and save it. The mayor just vetoed the idea because he wants to have the freedom to use it.
City Councilor Brook Bassan wants to make sure the city is being careful with its money. “I have been hearing about the potential for some shortfalls in the FY 24 budget,” said Councilor Bassan.
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She recently sponsored a budget amendment that would scoop up unused money from job vacancies and operational savings and put it away for the budget year starting in July. For example, the extra $3.3 million was saved in the Transit Department’s budget from the bus driver shortage. “Let’s take some of the extra that wasn’t spent on salaries due to the fact that there were so many vacancies and let’s put it in reserve. Let’s make sure that that funding is stored away for kind of a rainy day.”
Councilor Bassan says she thought this was a compromise Mayor Tim Keller’s office had agreed to. But at a recent city council meeting his administration showed its displeasure. Lawrence Rael serves as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer. He shared, “I think this is demoralizing to the departments that work really hard to provide service to all you and to all of the citizens of Albuquerque. What you’re really saying to the departments is that because you were frugal or you tried to work really hard to get your positions and get the services to the city now we’re coming in and taking the money from you in the middle of the year.”
But according to Bassan city departments that need additional funding will still be able to make requests to city council. “They can come back to us and we can look at the $12 million and say okay we will reallocate that money to you for whatever this need is in your department,” Councilor Bassan explained.
On Mar. 8 Mayor Keller vetoed the amendment stating it would severely limit the administration’s ability to close out the year and effectively deliver expected services and programs. The city council failed to override the mayor’s veto on a 4 to 5 vote on Monday, Mar. 20.