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City Council Waffles on Gas Tax

When something is muddled, like sugar and mint in a Mojito, things can get a little confusing. Mixed-up mint is one thing, but a jumbled council table is another. And that is what we got at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Albuquerque City Council.

Nevermind

Councilor Cynthia Borrego pulled a one-eighty when she changed her mind on letting voters decide to impose a gas tax. She originally voted in favor of putting the 2-cents per gallon tax proposal on the table. Then, about a half hour later, she asked for a reconsideration. Hmmm. She said it was because she was uncomfortable with the grim financial forecast. Makes this reporter wonder if she got a heated message from a constituent about the less than $15 a year we would see out of our pocket.

Councilors talked about how they get many calls from folks who are frustrated with the lack of sidewalks, proliferation of potholes and the jagged edges of our streets.

The proposed tax would have been on the ballot of a future election. It was intended to fund roadway improvements, with the Americans With Disabilities Act Compliance in mind. It was estimated that the tax would have generated about $3.8 to $4.8 million a year. Instead of just doing the vote over, the bill’s sponsor, Councilor Issac Benton, asked for a 90-day deferral until February 2021. This was Councilor Benton’s second attempt to generate some roadway improvement money via the gas pumps. He tried in 2017, but no petrol tax was put on the ballot then either.

We Support You

Councilor Cynthia Borrego sponsored a resolution to create a task force to keep up with keeping up with the city’s employees’ professional training. She called it, “Supporting a workforce that helps move our city forward.” The measure passed unanimously with no discussion. There is no fiscal impact at this time as it is just putting together folks to look for opportunities to keep our city workforce well trained. Let’s keep them away from the muddled Mojitos.

Taking A Seat

Several Burque residents took seats on the city’s boards and commissions: Alexandria Bazan to the ABQ Volunteers Advisory Board, Madalena C. Salazar to the Urban Enhancement Trust Fund and Judy A. Pacheco to the Indicators Progress Commission.

Other City News

• The third round of COVID-repsonse funding is now taking applications for CARES Act funding. To date 227 local businesses have been approved for about $10,000 each, totaling about $2 million. The next application window is Dec. 7 to 11 and will be funded by the end of the year. For more information log on to cabq.gov/economicdevelopment.com.

• Albuquerque Police Department has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases among police department officers. There have been about 96 confirmed cases since the pandemic broke out eight months ago, with 46 of them in the last couple weeks. According to APD, last week there were 46 active cases with 34 of those among officers. Including other virus-related quarantines, this brought a total of 131 employees out sick. COVID-19 is not just impacting the police; 66 city employees, 15 firefighters and 22 transit department employees tested positive during November. Acting Interim Police Chief Harold Medina said while this is concerning, police officers are still out in the field answering calls.

• APD isn’t missing a beat even with all the folks out sick. A total of 30 outstanding warrants were cleared between Nov. 17 and 20. Not all of those picked up had to go to the Westside lockup. Thirteen felony arrests were made; the rest were misdemeanors. To keep the risk of COVID-19 in the jail population down, three people were given citations.

• In need of some childhood comfort from someone reading us a book? Tune in to Lavender Libros, a children’s book reading project where local government and community leaders read books on the city’s YouTube channel. The readings are new every Wednesday and feature many fun readings by some hard working folks in our community like Omauri Hampton, Fred Griggs, Virginia Trujillo, our own city councilors and many others. Lots of fun, and these days we all feel like a little kid in need of story time. Plus, it’s better for you than slurping muddled Mojitos. Tune in here online (youtube.com/channel/
UCc-rWA5T7PWCDD4PQXuZkdw
)
for more details. [ ]

The next meeting of the City Council is set for 5pm Dec. 7. Watch it at GOV TV at cabq.gov or on Comcast Cable Channel 16.