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City Councilors Call for Fiscal and Economic Impact Studies to be Conducted; Oppose Rushed Legislation Over Paid Sick-Leave and Premium Payments During Public Health Emergency

Councilors Bassan and Harris demand community and local business input.

June 21, 2020

City Councilors Don Harris and Brook Bassan announced concerns allowing abrupt legislation in an upcoming Special City Council meeting before the end of the city’s fiscal year and during the Covid19 pandemic. 

Ordinances O-20-25 and O-20-26 introduce requirements that Albuquerque employers must provide sick-leave to all employees and a premium payment, no less than $30 per shift, in addition to regular payment for work during the Covid19 Public Health Emergency to all essential employees. The premium primarily applies to employees earning up to $15 an hour. O-20-24 requires employers to provide personal protective equipment for employees.​

“We are concerned for our citizens and our businesses because they haven’t been a part of the process. This is not a time to rush into legislation that could have heavy economic and fiscal impacts, especially during the current pandemic and the crises we are already facing. We believe the legislation is well intended for the residents of Albuquerque but potentially harmful to our city’s economy. It’s an oversight to vote on these ordinances before going to committee first and it concerns us to put this legislation on the agenda for a special session.”

At this time, no official studies or analyses have been conducted to consider the budgetary effects of each ordinance. None of the proposed ordinances were introduced for discussion in Council committees. 

Councilors Harris and Bassan called for an economic impact study to be conducted ahead of voting on the ordinances, and an additional fiscal impact analysis for O-26, which includes employees of the City of Albuquerque, to make premium payments to employees who have worked during the city’s Covid19 Public Health Emergency. 

“We want to hear from our local businesses and our residents before we make any hasty decisions especially while so many wounds are still fresh in all of our community. The process of quickly moving these ordinances to be voted on is a mistake. The policies we hope to establish to help one another should be well thought-out, take time to construct, and be able to address concerns on both sides of an argument. We want our employees to be safe and feel valued and we want our employers in Albuquerque to stand on solid ground to keep their doors open. We have to come together and talk about these issues before the Council sprints to take action, potentially causing more severe problems in the long run.”

The Councilors stated that they will be working with the leadership of willing community partners, such as the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, to discuss options for potential legislation to offer additional assistance to Albuquerque employees who have been working during the city’s Public Health Emergency.

All three ordinances were introduced for the first time at the most recent City Council meeting, which was held on Monday, June 15th. The Public Health Emergency Premium Pay Ordinance, the Albuquerque Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, and the Employers To Provide Personal Protective Equipment For Employees Ordinance were allowed to be moved to the special Council meeting’s Final Action agenda, which are scheduled to be discussed and voted on Monday, June 29th at 3pm.

The City of Albuquerque’s municipal fiscal year ends on June 30th, 2020. The Albuquerque Paid Sick Leave and P.P.E. for Employees ordinances would be considered emergency measures and take effect immediately. The Public Health Emergency Premium Pay Ordinance would take effect five days after publication by title and general summary.

In response to the Governor’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency and ban on large public gatherings, the City Council’s special meeting will be held via Zoom video conference. Pursuant to Council Rules of Procedure, general public comment is not permitted at Special City Council meetings, although public comment is taken on the agenda items and comments must be germane to the matter. 

All comments on the special Council meeting agenda items will be taken through an online form only, which must be submitted the day of the meeting, Monday June 29th, prior to the 3pm start time. Concerned citizens will only be able to watch the live Council meeting through GovTv or YouTube without being allowed in-person public comment on the agenda.