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Keller proposes $44 million budget hike

Mayor Tim Keller on Friday unveiled his proposed $574.8 million general fund budget for the coming fiscal year. That represents a $44.6 million, or 8.4 percent increase over the current $530.2 million budget.

Read Keller's proposed budget here. The first 18 pages contain the summary.

Nearly half of that increase, or $19.6 million, would go to the Albuquerque Police Department. Under Keller's proposal, APD's budget would climb to $190.2 million from the current $172.3 million. That represents an 11.5 percent increase.

But the proposed budget, which Keller said would allow APD to hire 100 more officers, budgets APD at 1,040 officers. For the current fiscal year, APD was initially budgeted for 1,000 officers.

Most of that increase spending that Keller is proposing will come from the three-eights-of-a-cent gross receipts tax increase that the City Council recently passed and Keller signed. The tax hike will take effect on July 1, but the city won't see any of that money until September because of the way in which the state distributes the money to cities.

Keller said the proposed budget represents “an expression of what our community” values. He added that during his mayoral campaign last year the number one concern of citizens was public safety. The proposed budget includes money for more street cops, detectives, crime lab technicians, as well as $4 million for community policing efforts.

The budget also includes $2 million to process an 18-month backlog of unprocessed fingerprints from crime scenes and to try to reduce the backlog of 4,000 untested rape kits in the city.

Keller also wants to put an additional $3.2 million to the Albuquerque Fire Department so it can operate three Mobile Integrated Healthcare vehicles to respond to 911 calls from people who don't actually need an ambulance. That would free up other fire units to respond to the more serious medical emergency calls.

AFD Chief Paul Dow said that 87 percent of the 107,000 calls the fire department responds to each year are EMS calls. He added that many of those calls don't require a full response of a fire truck and a paramedic unit. The MIH vehicles would be staffed by two people and would respond to calls of people being drunk and passed out, or people with psychiatric issues.

Keller added that 80 percent of the GRT increase will be spent on public safety, which is more than the 60 percent that the City Council mandated.

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