As a lifelong resident of New Mexico who has served in the state legislature and in the executive branch of state government, I am proud to call Rio Rancho home.

As a result, I am no stranger to the challenges of balancing governmental budgets.

I am a fiscal conservative, I demand efficient government and have a strong aversion to tax increases.

On March 1, we as Rio Rancho voters have an opportunity to make a positive impact on our community by voting yes to establish a permanent fund that would be both fiscally prudent and forward-looking.

As a result of strong budget management, an uptick in construction and economic tailwinds, the city has $10 million of existing, unexpected one-time revenue in reserve.

City leadership is giving us the opportunity to decide whether to invest in our future or to spend in a Santa Fe second.

If approved, the permanent fund would be created with an initial principal investment of $10 million.

Each year, 50 percent of the investment earnings from this fund will be used to fund enhancements to public services. It diversifies and grows our revenues without a tax increase.

The other 50 percent of the investment earnings will go back into the fund so that it continues to grow for future generations.

It is important to note that the permanent fund would be established via Rio Rancho’s charter, or local constitutional document.

That means that only the citizens have the power to unlock the lockbox.

The city council could not unwind the permanent fund with a mere majority vote.

This is additional protection for the citizenry that helps deliver the enduring benefit to all Rio Ranchoans for generations to come.

By being smart with our money today and making this investment, we will also be helping to protect ourselves as a community from budget fluctuations and the ebbs and flows of the economy.

As a city, we have a chance to show the rest of the state how to do things right and invest in our future rather than spending people’s money just because it is available.

Leadership is really putting aside today’s wants to ensure we can meet tomorrow’s needs. This takes us a giant step in that direction.

Our mayor and city council have given us the opportunity to vote for our future. I would urge you to vote yes and continue to show why we are the City of Vision.

Keith Gardner
New Mexico House of Representatives, 2005-10
Chief of Staff, Gov. Susana Martinez, 2011-18
Rio Rancho