Voters are being asked to approve $25 million in flood-control bonds to help fund projects throughout the Albuquerque area for the next two years. There is no tax increase as a result of approving these bonds.

A bond represents a sum of money borrowed by Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) to finance capital improvement projects.

General Obligation bonds require approval by the voters and are repaid from a portion of the property taxes. The current tax (mil levy) for AMAFCA general bond obligation is 67.5 cents per thousand on debt service for AMAFCA. An owner of property assessed at $100,000 would pay $67.50 in debt service on these bonds. Because old bonds are being retired as the new bonds are requested, passage of the bonds does not result in a property tax increase. AMAFCA holds a “natural triple-Aaa” rating, the highest possible. This Aaa rating saves taxpayers money by keeping bond interest rates as low as possible. With less spent on interest, more money is available for project development and construction – money that goes directly into the Albuquerque economy.

The AMAFCA Project Schedule identifies possible projects that could be constructed using the Bond proceeds. The current Project Schedule can be found here. The Project Schedule utilizes various criteria to establish general project priorities from a technical perspective, which may not necessarily reflect the priorities used by the Board of Directors for funding and construction of individual projects. Specific projects will be funded and scheduled by AMAFCA Board action based on evaluation of public safety needs, cost-sharing benefits, orderly development of flood control infrastructure, overall community needs, and regional planning requirements.

Message from the Chairman:

Today more than 655,000 people live and work in the Albuquerque urban area. AMAFCA will continue to invest in flood control so future generations will have the maximum level of protection from the effects of flooding through constructing fiscally responsible flood control actions and multi-use facilities that complement and enhance the beauty of our City.

Ronald D. Brown
Chair, AMAFCA Board of Directors

The AMAFCA Bond Program is vital to our community’s future economic development by addressing priority infrastructure needs, improving quality of life, improving community health, public safety, the environment, and resiliency.

Over the last six years, the AMAFCA Capital program has contributed to the local economy, $118,200,000 or an average of 19 million dollars a year, funding studies, design and construction of flood control and water quality facilities in the urban area supporting over 800 local jobs.

Currently AMAFCA has $48,000,000 of outstanding debt and has a statutory limit of $80,000,000, therefore AMAFCA has $52,000,000 of debt capacity in reserve. The AMAFCA Bond Program works with the investment community to ensure a predictable debt repayment strategy, as a result, AMAFCA has held its debt service mill levy to 0.675, unchanged since 1999.

Project Schedule

The Bond Program will fund projects identified in the AMAFCA 2022 Project Schedule. The Project Schedule includes 65 projects, categorized as follows: 31% Drainage deficiencies in existing neighborhoods; 15% Rehabilitation of existing flood control facilities; 42% Master planned drainage facilities; and 12% Storm water quality projects (retrofits and new projects).The 2022 Bond Program will fund specific projects approved by the AMAFCA Board of Directors by Board action based on an evaluation of public safety needs, cost-sharing benefits, orderly development of flood control infrastructure which addresses overall community needs and regional planning requirements. This is an ongoing process, below are a few examples of the projects identified in the 2022 Project Schedule.  A full listing can be found here.

Paradise West Dam

This large detention facility near del Oeste Blvd will control flows in the West Branch of the Calabacillas Arroyo to historic rates, provide for reduction in sediment transport, and be designed for possible multi-use opportunities.  Construction of the facility will allow for upstream development without impacting existing downstream infrastructure

 

4th Street and Paseo Del Norte Area Drainage Project

The project includes storm drain infrastructure in 4th Street north of Paseo Del Norte and on adjacent side streets.  Water is then directed to existing infrastructure in and around Paseo del Norte.  The goal of the project is to reduce the extent of FEMA floodplain and alleviate local drainage issues in the area.

 

Pino Dam Auxiliary Spillway Modifications

 Pino Dam is presently an earthen embankment dam near Tramway Boulevard and San Antonio Drive.  The earthen auxiliary spillway has the potential to undergo head cutting if the spillway is operating. The modifications proposed for this project require either constructing a secondary auxiliary spillway on the west or south side of the dam and/or adding erosion resistant structural elements to the primary auxiliary spillway. Either proposal must get approval by the Office of the State Engineer and must not adversely affect the adjoining golf course.

Agency and Area Wide FEMA Floodplain Removal

In an effort to better utilize interagency resources, the Agency and Area Wide FEMA Floodplain Removal project would provide the framework for multiple agencies to address errors and remap FEMA defined floodplains within the AMAFCA jurisdiction.  The project would include engineering and survey work required to complete this process.  It is currently estimated that 10 to 15 percent of currently mapped floodplains within the AMAFCA jurisdiction could be subject to revision.

South Diversion Channel Freeboard Improvements

Improvements to the South Diversion Channel will achieve the additional freeboard necessary to meet federal requirements pertaining to levees. The project will include the construction of a two-foot-high sill wall along the south side of the South Diversion Channel near the APS outlet. The channel will be able to contain the 500-year water surface elevation with run-up and rolling waves along with the required freeboard protection after the necessary improvements have been constructed.

 

Alameda Drain Water Quality Structures

The Alameda drain is a major drainage and regions stormwater conveyance facility in the North Valley, used by many agencies.  A multi-agency hydraulic analysis identified possible locations for stormwater quality enhancement projects.  The structures would trap debris and provide maintenance access for both the structures and the Alameda Drain as well.

Tijeras Grade Control Structure 383+84

The Tijeras Arroyo is a large water course that bisects Kirtland Air Force Base.  The Tijeras Arroyo Facility Plan identified several grade control structures that were needed to provide vertical control of the arroyo.  Tijeras Grade Control Structure (GCS) 383+84 is one such structure located on the western boundary of the Air Force Base.  Cost sharing with the Air Force will not only provide the required erosion control for the area, but also provide necessary security measures along the area of the water crossing.

 

Gibson/San Mateo Floodplain Restudy

A comprehensive study of the upland watershed and storm drain network capacity in a residential neighborhood near the San Mateo/Gibson intersection in southeast Albuquerque is needed to determine the existing floodplain. The current available floodplain analysis may not be accurate due to development downstream of and within the affected neighborhood, and upstream on Kirtland Air Force Base. This study will determine locations of floodplain and drainage issues and provide data for the development of future projects to address these problems

 

Glenrio Loma Hermosa Storm Drain

The current storm drain in Glenrio is undersized and hydraulically inefficient. This neighborhood was built in the early part of the 20th century and included drainage facilities that are inadequate today.  Replacing the existing storm drain with a larger pipe or parallel pipe using an alternate corridor will be necessary due to existing residential properties between Atrisco and the Rio Grande. The upgraded storm drain would remove FEMA floodplain from approximately 100 properties.

 

Barelas Pump Station Outfall SWQ Improvements

Stormwater quality improvements will be made to the Barelas Pump Station at the discharge pipes in the Bosque. The improvements to the system will help to satisfy the EPA stormwater quality improvement permit requirements for the Rio Grande. This project will concentrate on making improvements in the Bosque outfall basin to attain additional floatable and solids settling. Meandering, unlined channels from the basin will be constructed through the Bosque

 

Project Lifecycle

Every flood damage reduction project is unique. Yet each project begins and ends, with common and predictable milestones along the way. Whether a project moves forward – and how quickly – depends on many factors, including the availability of funding at each milestone, shifting community priorities for flood damage reduction, and other changing circumstances (such as the price of steel or concrete) from year to year.

Throughout the lifecycle of each project, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) considers community desires and environmental considerations. For example, a project’s flood damage reduction target might be balanced against the community’s interest in sponsoring a hike-and-bike trail on AMAFCA property or in seeing a more aesthetically pleasing channel design. AMAFCA projects also may contribute to important environmental goals, such as habitat mitigation or stormwater quality improvements. While AMAFCA’s mission is to build and maintain flood damage reduction projects, the AMAFCA Board of Directors are committed to building those projects with an appropriate regard for the community and their fiduciary responsibility.

STEPS OF THE PROCESS

Feasibility Study – The need for a flood damage reduction project may be identified in various ways: a citizen suggestion, a county or city official’s request, or an AMAFCA conceptual analysis. Once a flooding problem is identified, the project moves into the first step of the project lifecycle – a feasibility study. The feasibility study usually involves further analysis of the flooding problem, communicating with the public and key stakeholders and determining major  components of a possible plan to achieve flood damage reduction goals. This is often the stage when the public first learns about an AMAFCA project.

Preliminary Engineering – Once a feasibility study report has been approved, and if funding is available, the project moves into the project development or preliminary engineering stage. During this stage, AMAFCA engineers develop and evaluate possible alternatives, prepare a project development or preliminary engineering report that includes project recommendations that meet flood damage reduction goals. The report will identify needed right-of-way, identify potential utility conflicts,  and develop a preliminary cost estimate for the recommended solution.

Right-of-Way Acquisition / Utility Relocation – Once the project development/preliminary engineering report is reviewed and approved by the AMAFCA Board of Directors, the project may advance to the right-of-way acquisition and/or a utility relocation stage depending on the project needs. The AMAFCA will either purchase property outright or acquire a specific-use easement for property needed to widen a channel or build a stormwater detention basin. In many cases, telephone, electricity, and gas lines must be moved out of the way. Again, cost and changing priorities may cause the project to be reevaluated.

Design – If the project continues to address current AMAFCA priorities, and if funding is available, the project moves into the design stage. During this stage, civil engineers prepare construction plans, specifications, and more detailed cost estimates. This stage may overlap with the previous stage of right-of-way acquisition and utility relocations since those activities may affect final design considerations. Periodic reviews presented to the AMAFCA Board of Directors may affect final design.

Construction – With a set of detailed construction documents in hand, AMAFCA may move into the construction stage, if funding is available. The AMAFCA Board of Directors will authorize this most visible stage of action, moving from the office to the construction site. The project will be bid and the AMAFCA Board of Directors will award the construction contract to a contractor. Projects may involve several construction phases and major projects may take years to complete.

Operation and Maintenance – Once construction is complete and final contracts have been closed out, the project becomes a facility requiring operation and maintenance. The now constructed facility becomes the responsibility of AMAFCA (or another governmental partner). Crews will mow, repair and otherwise maintain the facility.

Eventually, flood damage reduction facilities exceed their lifespan and need to be updated or replaced as part of the project lifecycle. Technological advances over the years also enable AMAFCA to upgrade our facilities. Future project modernization might include widening, deepening or restoring existing channels and dams, adding additional vegetation around a stormwater detention basin, or reconstructing waterways with natural channel design elements. Each flood damage reduction project is monitored and assessed as years go by to make sure it continues to support the goal of flood damage reduction consistent with community and natural values.

What is a general obligation bond?

A general obligation bond (G.O. bond) is a form of debt obligation that, when issued, provides Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) with funds to finance large capital improvements, such as those currently proposed to rehabilitate or build new flood control infrastructure or construct storm water quality improvements.

  • G.O Bonds are a financing mechanism to fund improvements immediately
  • Bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing agency (AMAFCA)
  • Repaid through the imposition of a dedicated debt service millage levy (Ad Valorem tax)
    • AMAFCA debt service millage levy set at 0.675 mill (no changes for AMAFCA since 1999)
  • A city-wide voter referendum is required prior to the issuance of GO Bonds

What can general obligation bonds be used for?

G.O. bonds allow AMAFCA to pay for major capital investments having a public purpose, such as dams, concrete and earthen channels, underground pipe, water quality improvement structures, and habitat improvements.

Bonds are sold to investors and the proceeds from the sale of these bonds are used to pay for capital projects. Bond funds cannot be used for everyday operating costs, such as salaries for AMAFCA staff. Such operating expenses are paid for by AMAFCA’s operational service millage levy.

Why does AMAFCA issue bonds to pay for AMAFCA projects rather than pay for projects with cash?

The AMAFCA Bond Program includes many planned and recommended large-scale projects throughout the Albuquerque urban area.  Using bond financing to fund large-scale projects, in a period of relatively low interest rates and lower costs of borrowing (especially given the AMAFCA’s favorable credit rating), allows the annual AMAFCA operating budget to be allocated toward  reoccurring costs such as maintenance, personnel, operations and public service programs.

How were bond-related projects selected?

The projects identified for this bond cycle are in-line with the 2022 AMAFCA Project Schedule. The Project Schedule came to fruition after a long-range planning process that took place from 2020-2021 and utilized a variety of needs assessment and engagement techniques with other government agencies to identify high-priority needs. The Project Schedule is updated every two years to reflect the changing needs of the community.  The 2022 Bond Program will fund specific projects approved by the AMAFCA Board of Directors based on an evaluation of public safety needs, cost-sharing benefits, orderly development of flood control infrastructure which addresses overall community needs and regional planning requirements.

Can bond funds be spent on salaries for staff and elected officials, day-to-day business operations or events? What are authorized uses of bond funds?

No. Bond proceeds cannot be used to pay day to day operating cost. The proceeds can only be used to build and rehabilitate the flood control system including all infrastructure associated with AMAFCA.  Studies, engineering reports, designs and construction projects are the authorized uses approved by the AMAFCA Board of Directors.

Will the debt service millage rate be the same every year?

Not necessarily, but the AMAFCA Board of Directors have strived to minimize fluctuations in the millage rate. The AMAFCA Bond Program produces the funds needed for infrastructure improvements in such a manner that has stabilized debt service. AMAFCA works with the investment community to insure a predictable debt repayment strategy.  As a result, AMAFCA has held its debit service mill levy of 0.675, unchanged since 1999.

How is the debt service millage rate calculated? 

The debt service millage rate is calculated using the County Property Appraiser Certified Taxable Values for Bernalillo County that is provided every July.  That Taxable Assessed Value is then divided by 1,000 to arrive at the value of one “mill.”   The millage levy in dollar value is then calculated by dividing 0.675 by 1,000 (to arrive at the value per thousand) and multiplying that by the property’s Taxable Assessed Value (not Market Value).  In our median home value example, a home assessed at $100,000 ($300,000/3) would equal an annual payment of approximately $68 per year.

Has AMAFCA recently increased its property tax rate?

No.  AMAFCA has held its debt service mill levy rate steady at 0.675 since 1999.  AMAFCA’s current tax rate for debt is the lowest in Bernalillo County.    AMAFCA manages its capital projects program carefully, so the AMAFCA Bond Program produces the funds needed for infrastructure improvements in a consistent and predictable manner.

How much property tax-supported debt does AMAFCA currently have?

Currently AMAFCA has $48,000,000 of outstanding debt. AMAFCA has a statutory limit of $80,000,000, therefore AMAFCA has $52,000,000 of debt capacity in reserve.

How will I know bond projects are being completed and funds are being used properly?

Transparency is of utmost importance to AMAFCA. AMAFCA staff update the AMAFCA Board of Directors on a monthly basis, during a public meeting, summarizing all bond proceeds expenditures including engineering design services and construction.  The AMAFCA Board of Directors represents the population and provides oversight to ensure that bond funds are spent appropriately.

Who do I contact if I have a question or comment about the 2022 G.O. Bond?

Questions and comments are welcome! Please contact amafca@amafca.org to get in touch with us.

New Mexico Secretary of State

Toll Free: (800) 477-3632

Website: www.sos.state.nm.us/

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Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office

Bureau of Elections: (505) 243 -VOTE

Website: www.berncoclerk.gov/