Two Albuquerque City councilors are sponsoring legislation that would increase the amount of federal aid funding for businesses in the city. Last week Mayor Tim Keller proposed a budget plan that would give $3.375 million in federal CARES act funding toward business grants and assistance with COVID-19 related difficulties. However, Councilors Brook Bassan and Trudy Jones argue that number is too low when the city has the funding available for use right now and have met resistance from the Mayor’s administration. The Mayor’s budget plan calls for the city to end the fiscal year with $40 million in contingency funds (plus a state mandated $49 million) “to protect against predicted drops in revenue that may stretch” into 2022.
Councilors Bassan and Jones are instead focused on the immediate needs of struggling businesses within the city. “Right now, we’re seeing it as the city suffering and businesses are hurting, and if we don’t have businesses stay open, we’ll have a higher unemployment rate, higher bankruptcy and closure rates,” Bassan said, adding that the fallout could spiral into long-term problems for the city. “What else is (the federal money) for if we’re not going to use it to help residents in Albuquerque,” said Bassan.
Jones and Bassan say they plan to introduce legislation at the next city council meeting (Wednesday, September 9th) that would allocate $10 million to businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees (or the part-time equivalent) that “have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19.” Six of the nine councilors must agree to include it as a voting item on the Wednesday night’s agenda. If that does not happen, the bill will move to a council committee for the normal legislative process. Read more HERE.