Rio Rancho voters are presented with an extraordinary opportunity on the March 1 ballot when we can vote yes to establish a permanent fund.
The permanent fund would take $10 million of existing, unexpected one-time revenue that the local government currently has available and invest this taxpayer money.
Each year, 50 percent of the interest earnings from this invested money would be used to fund enhancements to the important public services that we not only need, but want.
This will translate to more road work, more parks and more public safety, as determined each year by our elected officials.
The other 50 percent of interest earnings would go back into the fund so that it grows over time, which, in turn, generates even more revenue to fund public services in subsequent years.
One of the key aspects about the permanent fund is that it’s established via Rio Rancho’s charter, or local constitution document.
That means that only us, the citizens and voters, have the power to change how the permanent fund operates or if the initial $10 million investment should be utilized for some different purpose in the future.
This safeguard protects taxpayers against the whims and fancies of future politicians.
In my opinion, the best part about the permanent fund is that our local government will have additional funding to provide us services, and this happens with no new or increased tax or fee burden placed upon us.
Generally speaking, if more money is needed by a government entity for whatever reason, the options are limited to raising our taxes, increasing our fees, reducing our service levels or taking on debt.
A permanent fund does none of these things.
I would presume that a community member or two may believe that spending all of this $10 million now on something is preferable to a permanent fund.
In my opinion, that is short-sighted thinking without any vision toward our community’s guaranteed future needs.
Spend the money now, and it is gone forever. And it is more likely than not, whatever the current dollars are spent on will have recurring costs and/or associated needs in the future, which require more money with no identified way to pay for those costs.
It is also important to understand that spending the $10 million now won’t be a decision left up to residents.
This decision could be made by as few as four elected officials.
Our current mayor and city council have given the residents and voters of Rio Rancho the choice on how to use $10 million of our money by way of creating a permanent fund.
Let’s take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and do something visionary in the City of Vision that will benefit current and future generations.