Morning Word

City of Santa Fe Proposes $1,000 Retention Bonuses

Realtor PAC leads the pack heading into the Nov. 7 election

City proposes $1,000 to workers who stay through June

A proposal that would pay City of Santa Fe employees a $1,000 retention bonus if they stay in their jobs through June is expected to reach city councilors at their Nov. 8 meeting—the day after the local election. According to a news release, the proposed salary boost comes as a result of unanticipated gross receipts tax revenue that exceeds what officials anticipated in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. Officials did not specify the amount of GRT, but said they would disclose the total sometime this week. “When we adopted our current budget for this fiscal year, we said that if the economy stayed strong and we got unanticipated revenue, the first thing we’d do was to share it with our hardworking city employees,” Mayor Alan Webber said in a statement. “Promise made. Promise kept.” As detailed in a news release, the city previously budgeted for 4% raises for all employees in FY21 and 8% raises in FY22 “in response to an increasingly competitive national labor market and rising inflation.” For the current fiscal year, the city provided 3% raises for all employees who make less than $100,000 and a 1% raise for those paid $100,000 or more. Similar employee retention incentives were offered in the last two fiscal years. Unionized employees’ retention incentive agreements are subject to bargaining between the unions and management.

Realtors’ PAC fundraising outpaces affordable-housing group

A political action committee led by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors and staunchly opposed to a proposed tax on high-end real estate has raised close to twice as much as a PAC favoring the measure. If the Nov. 7 ballot proposal passes, buyers will pay a 3% excise tax on the portion of a home sale that exceeds $1 million dollars, with revenue supporting the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. According to campaign finance reports filed Oct. 31, SFAR’s PAC, Santa Fe Housing Opportunity Partnership, has now raised more than $230,000, while United for Affordable Housing has raised approximately $131,000. The anti-tax PAC received most of its money from SFAR, along with $50,000 from the New Mexico Association of Realtors, and poured it into a variety of marketing materials. More than $19,000 of the pro-tax PAC’s contributions came from individual donors, and the rest from nonprofit housing developer Homewise and the Partnership for Research and Education; expenses included consulting and research; mailers and a video; phone calls and digital advertising. United for Affordable Housing will hold a voter rally, starting at 7 pm this evening—folks who have voted can receive one free drink at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery if they wear their “I Voted” stickers.

Feds award NM $10.5 million for domestic violence prevention

During October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Department of Justice awarded tribes and nonprofits a total of $10.5 million, DOJ announced yesterday. The 17 grants to two tribes and 15 organizations came via DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women and Office for Victims of Crime as a result of the Violence Against Women Act and the Victims of Crime Act. The grants include $900,000 and $664,869 to the Pueblo of Jemez and Santo Domingo Pueblo, respectively, and the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women received approximately $382,000. Other recipients include: the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, which received $950,000; the Phoenix House Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Resource Center in Hobbs and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, which each received $750,000; close to $617,000 for the Tri-County Family Justice Center of Northeast New Mexico in Las Vegas; and the Community Against Violence in Taos received $500,000 from the OVW Rural Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Program grant. “Everybody deserves to feel safe in their home,” US Attorney for the District of New Mexico Alexander M.M. Uballez says in a statement. “We must believe survivors when they come forward, support them when they testify against their abusers, and have systems in place to aid them in healing.”

NM reports first flu cases

The state health department earlier this week released news of the start of New Mexico’s flu season, with DOH’s Scientific Laboratory Division confirming one case each in Northern and Southern New Mexico. More cases likely shall follow, DOH Secretary Patrick Allen says. “The geographical spread of these flu cases serves as an early indicator that we are likely to see more flu cases across the state in the upcoming weeks and months,” Allen says in a statement “The best time possible to get your annual flu vaccination is now, especially while overall flu rates in New Mexico and the United States remain relatively low. We also encourage individuals to get the new COVID-19 vaccine as well.” Easier said than done, perhaps. DOH Communications Director Jodi McGinnis Porter tells SFR says the department is aware that challenges remain in finding available COVID-19 vaccines—which are now handled in the private rather than the public sector following the end of the public health emergency. Residents can search for flu, COVID-19 or RSV vaccinations via “The newest flu and COVID shots don’t guarantee you won’t get sick—but both vaccines can reduce how sick you get,” DOH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón says in a statement. “The severity of the symptoms is everything when it comes to the difference between just not feeling well to needing to seek out additional treatment, even hospitalization.”

Listen up

The so-called “mansion tax” on the local Nov. 7 ballot has received the lion’s share of attention heading into election day, but make no mistake: Other financial questions also deserve voters’ considered consideration. On the most recent episode of Santa Fe Public Schools Inside SFPS podcast, host Cody Dynarksi, the district’s public information officer, talks with Deputy Superintendent of Operations Kristy Janda-Wagner and Chief Information and Strategy Officer Neal Weaver about the Education Technology Note and SB9 (the mill levy).

MLG’s bridesmaids

When New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham married in Washington, DC in May of last year, intel on the ceremonies for uninvited New Mexicans was slim. But Elle magazine has the scoop. Noting that “no one likes to upstage a bride,” writer Madison Feller notes that nonetheless “eyes were trained on the powerhouse lineup of politicians at her side: the ceremony’s officiant, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her bridesmaids, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and then-governor of Oregon, Kate Brown.” It’s a fashion magazine so, yes, we finally found out what they were all wearing. Kind of. “‘Michelle had an outfit picked out, and Laura and I conspired and vetoed it,’ Whitmer said during a group governors’ lunch in Ypsilanti, Michigan this past May. ‘We just decided we needed to maintain our dignity,’ Kelly jokes, the two falling into laughter. ‘We were all on the ballot too,’ Whitmer adds. ‘We were like, no.’ In the end, with the bride’s approval, they chose a uniform of champagne-colored shirts and black suits.” This anecdote appears within a story titled “Inside the Governor Group Chat,” examining eight female Democrat governors’ friendship. Lujan Grisham, for her part, tells Elle the “bridesmaid” idea started as a joke, but became real and important. “They made the time and supported me in a really important, personal moment,” Lujan Grisham tells the magazine. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

‘Tis (almost) the season

On the one hand, November has just begun. On the other: The year is almost over and the holiday season set to commence. Veranda picks the 10 best spots to visit in December for “for an end-of-year getaway,” and includes Santa Fe in the mix. “Outdoorsy types will love Nordic skiing through Santa Fe National Forest and snowshoeing at Hyde Memorial State Park,” the story says, followed by “a steamy soak at Ten Thousand Waves.” Best yet, one can participate in “Hallmark-worthy holiday happenings” like the Canyon Road farolito walk. The Travel also directs travelers to New Mexico this winter on its list of less-crowded destinations, pointing visitors to Taos, where the town “transforms into an enchanting winter wonderland, making it the perfect destination for travelers seeking a winter escape.” Make no mistake: New Mexico does do the holidays well, and the state Department of Cultural Affairs yesterday released its slate of holiday and winter events at state museums and monuments, which NMDCA Cabinet Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego described in a statement as the “most impressive slate of holiday programs to date.” While some programs are tied to Christmas, such as “traditional farolitos, holiday markets and visits from Santa Claus,” others celebrate Lunar New Year, Día de Los Muertos, Veterans Day and “the countless Tribal traditions that have been celebrated in the land we call New Mexico for generations,” a news release states.

Back in the 60s

The National Weather Service forecasts a return to warmer temperatures today, with sunny skies, a high temperature near 64 degrees and north wind around 10 mph. Tonight’s low will reach around 38 degrees.

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