In case you haven't believed me – and some, well one, media outlet hasn't – about the fact that the federal government still hasn't approved that former mayor's $134 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, maybe you'll believe Mayor Tim Keller.
On Wednesday morning he told a crowd of 200 business leaders what I've been saying for months: that the Federal Transit Administration still hasn't approved the ART project and the city is facing a $75 million deficit on the project. Here's what Keller told the crowd that was in love with the guy who used to be mayor:
“I’m telling you, straight up, we do not have the money from the feds. It has been promised. It has been in the budget. The check has not been signed. We’re going in January to meet with them to get an update. We have to understand, as a city, to call it like it is, which is that all the homework was done. All the legwork was done, but we still need the check.”
So there you have it, they guy who used to be mayor, and others in his administration, started a massive construction project without having all, and in this case, most of the money for it in the bank.
If the city doesn't get the money, Keller's administration should file personal liens against R.J., the other ilk in his administration who pushed this dumb project, and all those ART-loving developers and real estate people in the NAIOP crowd who hope to score big because of the project.
Here are a few other things Keller told the crowd:
* The city is facing a budget deficit, possibly up to $10 million, because the former mayor's administration predicted that gross receipts tax revenues would be growing at 3 percent, when, in fact, they're growing at about half that rate.
* The guy who used to be mayor used money from unfilled jobs at City Hall to fund pet projects like the $4 million fountain rebuild on Civic Plaza. And guess what, after putting $4 million into the new fountain, it still leaks into the underground parking garage it sits on top of.
* Back to ART. Keller said that if the city doesn't get it's $75 million for the project from the feds, he would think of running its buses to the airport so he could use airport bond money to help pay it off. As he pointed out in his talk, it should have gone to the airport in the first place.
Here's the background on that, which I've reported on over the years. The Mid-Region Council of Government's originally planned for ART to run on University between Menaul and Gibson, and then on Gibson to the airport. The MRCOG people were set to apply for the FTA grant for it, when an individual in authority stepped in and basically hijacked the project an demanded that it run down Central Avenue.
Wasn't that guy who used to be in office a great mayor?