City Hall

The Rio Rancho Governing Body has approved a preliminary budget that includes an affordable housing study and a financial reserve equal to 36.2 percent of expenditures, higher than policy requires.
Governing body members voted unanimously Thursday at City Hall to pass the budget and a new financial-reserve policy.
With Councilor Jeremy Lenentine absent, Mayor Gregg Hull voted.
The budget anticipates a little more than $71 million in revenue and $63.7 million in expenditures for the coming fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.
Hull had recommended the housing study, with an estimated cost of $70,000.
McDonald’s owner Julian Garza, Sandoval County Commission Chairman Dave Heil, Sandoval Health Collaborative member Richard Draper and Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Schalow supported the study.
“I hire a lot of food-service employees, and I’m here to support their need for affordable housing,” Garza said.
Draper said studies show 80 percent of a person’s health is related to social determinates, and housing consuming 30-40 percent of someone’s income causes problems.
Opposing the study, Rio Rancho resident John Pearse listed existing and planned apartment complexes in Rio Rancho and northwest Albuquerque, saying he thought there was already enough affordable housing. If the community does need more affordable housing, he recommended distributing complexes of 50 units or less around the city where existing zoning will accommodate them.
Rio Ranchoan Michael Jackovich said the study should delineate whether the developer, residents or city “gets the most bang for the buck” from affordable housing.
On another aspect, Councilor Karissa Culbreath said she initially questioned the need for the study because she thought affordable housing development was intuitive and well-planned projects would get support. However, she said, that’s not what has happened. After listening to the community, she believed the study was important.
Stakeholders need to “recognize that this is not some kind of us-and-them situation,” Culbreath said.
Councilor Jim Owen said it was short-sighted and selfish to think Rio Rancho wouldn’t need affordable housing. He said he was disappointed with people who recently moved to the community, hadn’t worked hard to get it started “and then you come along and drop in a $400,000 house and think you should have more say than anyone else.”
As for the financial reserves, the new policy increased them from 15 percent to 25 percent. The 25 percent level is $15.9 million for the upcoming fiscal year, according the Hull’s written response to the staff-recommended budget.
Governing body members can choose to hold more money in reserve than policy requires, which they did Thursday, saving $23.6 million or 36.2 percent in the general fund, said city spokeswoman Annemarie Garcia.
The governing body can change the reserve level again at any time.
The budget also includes $6.7 million for roads, 4 percent raises for city employees, two new police officer positions and four new civilian positions. The appropriations for the municipal court were decreased from Judge Robert Cook’s initial requests, including a $99,000 decrease for attorney fees and services based on trend analysis and denial of an added senior clerk position, according to city documents.
For more information about the budget, visit