Come March, Santa Fe residents will have the opportunity to vote on whether the city should spend $22.8 million on a host of projects. Here's what you need to know.


We could write you an entire treatise on municipal bonds, but who wants to read that? Thus, have more fun with our quick Q&A with…ourselves.

What's a bond?

A bond is basically a loan to the city so it can pay for stuff it needs. (But first, voters must approve the bond—in effect agreeing that the city actually needs the stuff it wants.)

The bond question on the March 6 ballot is actually consists of three separate questions:

  • $5 million for police and fire facilities
  • $14 million for parks and trails infrastructure
  • $3.8 million for renewable energy projects and watershed improvements

It's a general obligation bond, meaning it's based on the city's credit rating and taxing power. The City of Santa Fe recently received a AA+ rating from Fitch, the second-highest credit rating available.

Where does the money come from?

The city plans to pay the bond back through a modest increase in property taxes—a total of approximately $54 per year on a $300,000 property. According to the League of Women Voters, here's the breakdown:

  • $11.82 per year for Bond 1
  • $33.08 per year for Bond 2
  • $8.96 per year for Bond 3

Yikes. How long will that last?

According to the LWV, 30 years, give or take.

What exactly are we paying for?

Here's the breakdown, via the City of Santa Fe website:

Bond 1 ($5 million for police and fire facilities)

  • $1.5 million
  •  to complete the main police facility on Camino Entrada—a plan about which
  • some cops have expressed doubts
  • .
  • $3.5 million
  •  for a new fire station—currently outside city limits but slated for annexation this year. Plenty of city council candidates have told us they’re in favor of revising the annexation schedule, though, which casts some doubt on the benefits to the city. Still, given last year’s horrendous fire season, it’s probably best to do all we can to prepare.

Bond 2 ($14 million for parks and trails infrastructure)

  • $6 million
  •  for trail improvements (includes a St. Francis underpass at W Alameda; bikers rejoice!).
  • $5 million
  •  to “complete Phase 1 of the SWAN (Southwest Activity Node) Park in Tierra Contenta including a playground, family picnic area, multi-purpose sports field, lawn area, basketball court, landscaping, access road and parking,”
  • according to the city
  • .
  • $3 million
  •  for parks improvements not completed through the 2008 Parks Bond.
  • Click here to read SFR’s cover story on that bond’s results.

Bond 3 ($3.8 million for renewable energy projects and watershed improvements)

  • $1.8 million
  • for a solar energy system at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center. The system, according to the city, will be able to meet about one-quarter of the GCCC’s energy demand.
  • $2 million
  •  for watershed improvements and stormwater management

What are the arguments for and against?

PRO: The city claims that if all three questions are approved, the bond will create 157 construction jobs in Santa Fe; what's more, it'll probably help out our quality of life.

CON: For obvious reasons, higher taxes and municipal debt aren't really in vogue right now.

Can we see the actual questions—like, how they'll look on the ballot?

Yes! Here they are:

1. Shall the City of Santa Fe issue up to $5,000,000 of general obligation bonds to acquire, design, construct, and improve buildings and equipment for police and fire protection public safety purposes?

2. Shall the City of Santa Fe issue up to $14,000,000 of general obligation bonds to acquire land for, and to plan, design, build, equip, renovate, and improve public parks, bike/pedestrian trails, and related infrastructure?

3. Shall the City of Santa Fe issue up to $3,800,000 of general obligation bonds to acquire, install, construct, upgrade, and improve sustainable environment projects, including renewable energy, arroyo drainage, and watershed security projects?

Tell me what to do!

Not until our endorsements issue, grasshopper. But it's just a week away…