Before City Council approved the award of a $50,000 contract to a private company to study the feasibility of a public bank in Santa Fe late Wednesday, District 4 Councilor Ron Trujillo had something to say.
"Over the years, we pass $50,000 here, $50,000 here, $100,000 here," he said, head shaking, right hand gesturing. "And I guess I'm getting tired that we're spending all this taxpayer money on studies" that are only going to conclude "that it's going to take a million dollars to do this, this much time..."
Trujillo has also recently been an outspoken opponent of the city's expenditure for another $50,000-project, an incentive paid to the TV show The Bachelor to shoot in Santa Fe. "Years and years go by," once a study is funded, "and I still don't see nothing happen," he continued.
"The city is in a deficit right now," he said, explaining why he was going to vote against the resolution .
His pleas for fiscal restraint fell on deaf ears, with the exception of District 2 Councilor Bill Dimas, who joined Trujillo in voting against the contract with Building Solutions LLC that pays the consulting firm in $5,000 and $10,000 increments after it completes various directives."
Mayor Javier Gonzales, an New Mexico State University regent, recused himself from the discussion because Building Solutions plans to use the Arrowhead Center, a consulting arm of NMSU. District 1 Councilor Patti Bushee was absent from the meeting.
District 3 Councilor Carmichael Dominguez noted that the $50,000 would come from a "relatively restricted" economic development fund that the city already allocated for the current fiscal year. "We're not increasing the deficit that exists year to year," he said, an assertion affirmed by city Manager Brian Snyder.
"And I think it's money well spent," he added. "I'm looking for opportunities like this to get rid of things like predatory lending."
"I think that's just going to further advance the intent of being a home rule city and that's to help us realize our own future," added District 2 Councilor Joseph Maestas.
Councilors Maestas, Dominguez, Peter Ives, Signe Lindell, Chris Rivera voted to fund the study.
In the evening session, which starts out with comments to the council from members of the public, Gloria Mendoza echoed Trujillo's concerns about the banking contract. "You could have used the $50,000 to throw into the homeless shelter that you're trying to close down," she said, with a tone of incredulity. "Public banking?"
"$50,000?" she added. "$50,000 to help people who are addicted to heroin. Meth. I don't like my tax dollars going to studies."
Earlier, councilors passed a resolution that calls on city staff to coordinate with Santa Fe County to discuss how the two entities could pursue a publicly owned utility.
Building Solutions, LLC.