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ABQ Council May Use Blight-Fighting Tool to Spread Urban Sprawl

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September 4, 2007

Albuquerque, NM – A financial tool designed to revitalize blighted neighborhoods and rundown inner cities may end up expanding Albuquerque's sprawl instead, according to its critics. Developers are using something called "tax-increment financing" to help fund the new Mesa Del Sol development near the edge of the city; another developer is proposing a similar plan for an even bigger development on the West Mesa.

The development firms insist their plans will boost the city's economy, but Gabriel Nims, with 1000 Friends of New Mexico, says the projects will take public funding away from other, more critical priorities.

"We should be focusing on reinvesting in our core community. We've identified a backlog of over $1.7 billion in infrastructure costs or needs. Why should we be throwing the bank at further development on the fringe?"

Eric Schmeider, of the Southwest Organizing Project, says the subsidies actually take money out of the state' general fund and away from more needy rural communities.

"Taxpayers from Clayton to Carlsbad are subsidizing development in the Albuquerque–Rio Grande corridor."

The new developments also could increase Albuquerque's population by more than 20 percent. The Albuquerque City Council will consider a tax-increment financing measure at its next meeting, on Wednesday.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM