While a couple of city councilors, and the president of the union that represents Albuquerque police officers babble on and on about the need for a tax increase to fund public safety in the city, understand this: Albuquerque already has a one-quarter-cent Public Safety gross receipts tax in place.
The tax was approved by city voters in October 2003; It raises $36.6 million a year for the police and fire departments and for public safety programs.
Since the tax was approved, it has funneled $400 million to $500 million out of your pockets into the police and fire departments.
Read that again: Since the tax was approved, it has funneled $400 million to $500 million out of your pockets into the police and fire departments.
What has that half-billion dollars been used for? Who knows. We'll have to ask our tax-hiking City Councilors Ken Sanchez and Trudy Jones about that.
Actually, we do know a little about how that money has been used; it's been spent to buy equipment and to fund the salaries of 105 police officers a year. In other words, the money has been used to give our cowardly city councilors an excuse for failing to do their jobs. And their jobs are to properly and fully fund the police and the fire departments out of the existing general fund budget before they pay for anything else.
But it appears that the cowardly and sleazy councilors pulled a bait-and-switch on the citizens of Albuquerque. Instead of using the $500 million that's been generated by the Public Safety GRT tax to supplement and add to APD's budget, they used it to replace general fund money they were throwing at the police department.
Then they used that general fund money that should have gone to the police department on other stuff. In other words, they spent the kids' college money on cigars and beer, and now they're demanding more tuition money.
It's sick, and the city councilors and the police union are playing all of you like fools.
Here's what Tax-Hiker Ken Sanchez had to say about the 2003 Public Safety Tax eight years ago. This is from a guest Op-Ed that Sanchez wrote to the Albuquerque Journal in 2011:
"From its inception, a significant portion of the Public Safety Quarter Cent Tax was intended to be used for salaries and benefits. The resolution that the council passed when it enacted the Public Safety Tax included a five-year expenditure plan titled “Intended Use of Public Safety Gross Receipts Tax,” and that document clearly shows that the tax was intended to support at least 105 police officers, 42 firefighters and 15 Fire Department heavy technical rescue personnel, along with future raises."
So the 2003 quarter-cent Public Safety Tax was supposed to pay for 105 cops a year. But in the past five to six years, APD has never been able to hire all the cops it has been budgeted for. What has happened to your $500 million?
We'll try to find out. But in the meantime, don't be fooled. Don't let these people rob you again.