By Carolyn Carlson
—Newly appointed Councilor Roxanna Meyers had a fairly uneventful debut at the Monday, Dec. 17 meeting. It was also the first meeting for new Council President Dan Lewis. Meyers was appointed by Republican Mayor Richard Berry on Dec. 7 to fill the District 2 seat vacated by Democrat Debbie O’Malley, who was elected to the Bernalillo County Commission.
District 3, on the other hand, is being represented by Isaac Benton who, due to redistricting, does not live within its boundaries. Democrat Benton sought the appointment, but Berry said Meyers was the most aggressive candidate. The Council now is composed of six Republicans and three Democrats.
A couple of issues—selling a vacant fire station and changing the name of the Wells Park Community Center to the Johnny Tapia Wells Park Community Center—were postponed. Several members of Tapia’s family spoke in favor of the renaming of the Wells Park center. But this did not change Councilor Ken Sanchez’s decision to yank the item from the agenda
Other actions—giving the Council the authority to fire the city’s inspector general and a setting the boundaries of the North Valley development plan—were also deferred after some discussion.
The Council approved unanimously four agenda items concerning Mesa del Sol, the soon to be sprawling development to the south. One item gave Mesa del Sol more time to stabilize before implementing affordable housing. Another asked to put University Boulevard’s proposed road improvements on a list for federal funding. The third approved the sale of a tract of Mesa del Sol land to Isleta Pueblo, and the last approved filling a vacancy on the Mesa del Sol tax increment board.
Topic: Big Bucks for Burque Biz
A bipartisan bill sponsored by Republican Councilors Dan Lewis and Trudy Jones along with Democrat Rey Garduño sets up a new Economic Development Action Account containing $5.5 million. The money comes from penalties leveled against companies that got city incentives but failed to live up to their end of the deal. The money will be used to market Albuquerque as great place to set up shop. The mayor or a designee, two councilors and two members of the public selected by the mayor will decide how to spend the money.
Garduño said he would like to see the money spent on helping existing businesses—not just bringing in new ones. Economic Development Department Director John Garcia assured councilors that the money would be spent in accordance with regulations. That can include: closing deals, providing workforce training, aiding Albuquerque businesses and marketing the city. Garcia said the selected committee will work with other outside groups such as the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce to find the best fit for how to use these funds.
Depending on how the money is spent, this could go a long way. The city needs to be aggressive to attract sustainable, visionary and energy-sensible businesses.
The next meeting is Monday, Jan. 7, at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall. Watch it on GOV TV 16 or at cabq.gov/govtv.