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Budgeting for Our Future

Proposed Budget Maintains Key City Services & Programs Without Cuts or Rollbacks.
May 02, 2024

As rising costs for goods and services continue to impact families and businesses across Albuquerque, City Council will take up the Keller Administration’s proposed budget this week. In a time of rising inflation, local governments are facing tough choices, and Albuquerque is no different.

“Our community expects, and deserves, quality City services, programs and amenities,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “While other cities are cutting back, we’re ensuring that families don’t lose access to the public resources they count on.”

The proposed budget maintains a full scope of critical services for Albuquerque residents and businesses, including fighting crime, addressing housing and homelessness, behavioral health and addiction response, youth and family programs, quality of life improvements and vital basics like new and repaired roads, lighting, parks, community centers and libraries.

While the proposed budget shows an increase in expected revenue, the cost of providing expected services and amenities has also increased drastically. For instance, over the past five years, food costs have increased 44% and next year they are projected to increase another 20%. A January 2024 New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee report notes that national non-residential construction costs increased by 43% from January 2019 to October 2023.

“The City, like families and businesses, feels the impact of increased costs across the board,” said Chief Financial Officer Kevin Sourisseau. “Our City departments are being incredibly creative as they work to find efficiencies and streamline services so that we can continue to deliver for Albuquerque families.”

With dramatic increases in costs across the board came questions about how to best keep services stable. Since 2017, the Keller Administration has consistently prioritized access for families, residents, and businesses, keeping fees and entry costs to City amenities very low. With the new reality of inflation and increased cost of labor, City fees and prices are no longer in line with what it costs to actually provide those services. For example, fees for the Planning Department have not increased in 15 years, and the proposed adjustments will allow the department to add additional resources to expedite permitting in order to help the city develop in a sustainable way and address critical needs for services and housing. Fees for the BioPark haven’t increased in over 7 years, and very modest increases will help the team provide the best care for animals and keep up with the rising cost of running a world class facility.

Though some have zeroed in on modest increases in fees and ticket prices to criticize the proposed budget, these are not only in line or below regional comparisons, but still provide very high-value, low-cost public family entertainment, activities, and amenities during tough times. The proposed increases are long overdue and are necessary adjustments that will allow the City to maintain and improve the services and programs we offer.

As with any other budget year, funds from fees are directed to the General Fund, where they overwhelmingly support essential City services such as police, fire and rescue, senior support, municipal development, transit, youth and family services, behavioral health and addiction outreach and more.