Dinelli: turn ART platforms into breathalyzer stations

With all this talk of the City Council wanting to raise our gross receipts taxes and the beginning public outcry opposing it, the City Council needs to start thinking out of the box.

City Councilors Trudy Jones and Ken Sanchez want to raise the gross receipts tax that will generate $55 million a year to help pay for the $40 million projected deficit as well as hire more cops and dedicate money to public safety.

Police Union President Shawn Willoughby wants the City Council to guarantee at least 60% of the new revenue be given to APD to help recruitment and give his membership raises.

“Public Safety” represents 29% of a $529.6 million general fund budget appropriations for the City of Albuquerque, and includes the Albuquerque Police Department and the Fire Department.

The Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) Annual budget is $171.8 million.

APD employs 1,484 full time employees.

The Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD) employs 699 full time employees.

The Albuquerque Police Department had a general fund budget of $171.8 million approved for the 2017-2018 fiscal year which included an increase by $7 million or a 4.2% increase for the Department.

The Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD) annual budget is $75.5 million.

The Fire Department budget had a decrease of 1.6% or $1.2 million below the FY/17 original budget.

It turns out that the City is also facing a $75 million shortfall to pay for the ART Bus project if the federal grant money is not forthcoming.

The ART Bus project construction is almost complete and the bill must be paid.

Six more brand new ART buses have been delivered but the administration has no idea when the ART Bus project will be completed nor when the buses will be used, but the buses still must be paid for to the tune of $22 million.

What the City owes on the ART Bus project could almost pay for a full year’s budget for the Fire Department.

It’s time for the city council to think out of the bus when dealing with the city’s financial crises and the projected deficits.

Perhaps our Firefighters could use the ART Buses to go to emergency calls for service using the ART Buses as a means of saving money.

The city could also install extension ladders bought at COSTCO on the tops of the buses and convert them to ladder units to deal with high rise fires.

Hell, the city could even convert the ART Buses to APD Breathalyzer Test stations or portable APD area command stations for use by our police officers.

Maybe the City Council could replace Shawn Willoughby’s patrol car with an ART Bus and put him in charge of police recruitment and send him around the country finding qualified people to become police officers, at least that way the City Administration would get him out of town and out of the papers and off the TV and allow them to do their jobs without police union interference.

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I've been a reporter, writer and editor for 37 years. I'm dedicated to honest, fair and hard-hitting reporting. I'm not conservative or liberal, but am just a reporter who tries to get to the truth at any given point in time. I don't believe in pulling punches or being a lap dog because that serves no one. A free and aggressive press is essential to human liberty. That's why the Founding Fathers put a free press in the Constitution. So on this site you'll get a variety of news, fearless opinion, analysis, humor, satire and commentary. It's kind of like a free-for-all. My motto is "Without fear and without favor."  But good journalism takes time and money, so I hope you will contribute what you can to these efforts by clicking on the "Donate" button above. I could use your help. Thanks, Dennis Domrzalski.

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