ALBUQUERK, New Mexico (AP) – Voters in Albuquerque may be confused about how the proposed soccer stadium will be funded because the vote includes conflicting language about funding the city’s $ 50 million stadium bond proposal.
Albuquerque magazine reports that the ballot, which has been in use since early voting on 5 October, initially describes the funding for the project as coming from “gross revenue tax bonds” known as GRT.
However, the place where voters put a check mark on the ballots refers to general bond bonds known as GO, which are another funding mechanism paid for with property taxes.
Officials said they did not know how the confusion occurred and that it did not pose a legal problem.
Critics in the area where it is possible to build a stadium and other residents said the city should use the money allocated to build the stadium to tackle other problems, such as crime and Albuquerque’s record homicide rate.
The professional football team, New Mexico United, will be the primary leaseholder of the site and rents a stadium from the city. The team contributed $ 840,000 in cash and over $ 28,000 in goods and services in kind. in New Mexico, United for All, a political action committee that promotes bonds through blitz ads.
The committee was the largest fundraiser and sponsor of city elections, in which voters would also elect a mayor, some city councilors, and school councilors. Voting ends on November 2.
The city plans to set aside a portion of its GRT – a tax on the sale of goods and services – for an annual payment of $ 50 million that it will borrow to build the stadium.
While Mayor Tim Keller’s administration said it would only harass the stadium if voters approve of the allocation of money, GRT bonds – unlike GO bonds – do not technically require voter approval.
The city has spent about $ 13 million a year on existing debt on GRT bonds, but has recently paid off some of those bonds. That freed up about $ 4 million a year, which officials said they could use to pay off the stadium’s new debt if voters approve a $ 50 million bond.
The stadium’s new debt will require payments of about $ 3 million annually over 25 years.
New Mexico United has pledged to pay the city $ 900,000 annually to use the stadium. The team also said it would pay $ 10 million for the construction.
Some critics have argued that the owners of the team are wealthy and do not need a subsidized project. Others fear that the project will harm the surrounding areas due to noise and traffic.
“I have learned to be wary of our political processes, which too often ask voters for a quick yes with a promise to address community concerns later, only to find that once a yes is given, there is no reason to continue. works hard with the local community to solve problems, ”said John Moore, pastor of First United Methodist Church.
The city must enter into a “social benefit agreement” with the team and the affected area before the stadium is built. The Barelas Neighborhood Association and the Barelas Community Coalition, representing residents living near one of the preferred stadium locations, issued a statement highlighting the importance of the agreement.
But some opponents still question whether areas will truly be protected even if an agreement is reached. Frances Armijo of South Broadway, also close to the proposed stadium site, said she believes residents living near the two preferred sites are “sacrificial lambs.”
“CBAs or not CBA, once the damage is done, the damage is done,” she said.