89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rio Rancho fared well in the pandemic, asks voters where to put extra cash

© heliopix

The state isn’t the only New Mexico government flush with cash despite the pandemic. The city of Rio Rancho also fared better than expected. City residents are now being asked to weigh in on what to do with the surprise surplus.

A charter amendment asks voters whether Rio Rancho should invest $10 million in a permanent fund – like a savings account for the city.

Public Affairs Division Manager Annemarie Garcia says the money that would be used to start the fund comes in part from higher-than-expected gross receipts taxes and record single family home starts in the city despite the pandemic.

“There were projections that revenue was going to basically tank, and it scared a lot of municipalities. So, we tightened our belts,” she said. “And then it turned out it wasn’t as bad as we thought.”

The city would invest the fund and, according to its investment policy, the director of the Department of Finance, along with a professional investment advisor, would manage it with support from the city’s investment advisory group. Garcia says the advisory group will be expanded to include more public participation if the permanent fund passes.

Half of the annual earnings would go toward public services like infrastructure, police, emergency services, parks and libraries. The other half would be used to grow the permanent fund.

The city estimates the fund could double in size in 20 years.

If voters reject the idea, the city’s Governing Body would decide how to spend the money, rather than invest it.

The 2022 Municipal Officer Election is happening in Rio Rancho and 25 other New Mexico cities and towns on March 1. Find the full list here. Early voting has started and goes through Feb 26.

This story is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.