Translate Our Site

Mayor Keller Signs Budget Closeout, Including Investments for Black Community

Drawing on CARES Act Relief Funding to cover significant costs related to COVID public health response

July 9, 2020

At news conference today at Black-owned local business Nexus Blue Smokehouse on South Broadway, Mayor Tim Keller, alongside community leaders and City Councilors, signed a budget package to put the City on sound footing moving forward into an uncertain and challenging fiscal future. The package also includes a $1 million investment into supporting positive impact in the Black community.

The pandemic had a devastating effect on local and national economies, closing businesses and eliminating jobs virtually overnight. As unemployment rose to historic levels, cities around the country slashed budgets and furloughed or laid off workers. In Albuquerque, decreases in tax and fee revenue created an anticipated FY2020 shortfall of $27 million in the City’s budget.

Mayor Keller’s administration began working to identify current-year savings by banning travel, examining department budgets for cost savings, putting restrictions on new hires, and examining contracts for potential cutbacks. Through organizations like the US Conference of Mayors and in partnership with the Albuquerque Congressional delegation, the administration also fought successfully to make sure Albuquerque was on the list of major cities across the country to receive direct funding from the Federal CARES Act, securing $150 million in COVID-19 relief. In a meeting last week, the City Council approved a budget package that closes the gap by taking advantage of these savings and allocating over $40 million in eligible payroll expenses to the CARES Act funding.

The Council also allocated $1 million for investment into positive impact in Albuquerque’s Black community.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “We directed a significant City response to the Coronavirus pandemic, dedicating thousands of hours of city worker time to deliver meals, respond to health and public safety challenges, stand up testing and care for vulnerable people, and make sure no one fell through the cracks. By drawing on relief funds to cover these eligible expenses and moving quickly to identify savings, we can make sure that for FY2020 we close the budget shortfall and, thankfully, avoid the layoffs and furloughs we’ve seen in so many other cities.”

“It’s very hard to even analyze where we are in terms of revenue, because that’s really two-months back and sometimes with the revenue we receive from the State in gross receipts tax it’s difficult, even in a normal year, to know where we’re going to be from month-to-month. But in this case, we have some good people at the helm and an administration that’s been very smart about this and I appreciate that,” said Councilor Isaac Benton. 

Two weeks ago, the One Albuquerque Fund announced that it is creating a dedicated investment fund that will focus on positive impact in the Black community such as boosting Black-owned businesses and job training opportunities. The Fund is calling on companies and the community to donate to the Fund specifically to support these efforts.

Councilor Klarissa Pena sponsored an amendment to the budget fix package to join the effort by investing $1 million of year-end reversion funding toward the same goals. Together, the City and the One Albuquerque Fund initiatives will support local Black businesses and communities, paying dividends in the form of new jobs, stronger communities, and a better economy for everyone in the city. The push meets two major goals of the administration: supporting young people and developing an economy of small businesses that works for all.

“Looking at our budget, we do give money to the Hispanic communities, we do give money Native American Communities – nowhere near where we need to be – but then to look at the African American community and see that we give even less, I saw this as an excellent opportunity and the Mayor had a great idea of bringing this forward. I look forward to back on track in terms of the dialogue about social, institutional and systemic racism, and I hope this is a start in that direction,” said Councilor Klarissa Peña.

The One Albuquerque Fund will develop objectives and criteria in the coming weeks to determine how to invest the money they raise in the Black community in the most effective way. The criteria will be developed using a community-driven public input process. The group will also be challenging Albuquerque businesses and individuals who have voiced support for Black Lives Matter and have the capacity to give to step up and make a contribution to the One Albuquerque Black Investment Fund.

To donate to the One Albuquerque Fund’s Black Investment Fund, visit www.onealbuquerque.org.