News & Announcements
MAYOR'S MEDIA ROUNDTABLE REPORT:
KIDS, COPS, AND COMMERCE
BUDGET OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS: Finance Department Director Mary McCoy kicked off Mayor Webber's bi-weekly Media Roundtable with a positive update on the budget. Turns out things are looking better than they did last July when she had to re-do the budget three times because of uncertainty about the depth and longevity of a COVID-19 recession. Sure, the local economy took a nearly half-billion dollar hit and City tax revenues declined as a result, but federal aid helped to keep the bottom from falling out and more of it is on the way. McCoy forecasts an accelerated recovery thanks to growing Gross Revenue Tax income and generous federal stimulus money: “We appreciate that the New Mexico Congressional delegation and President Biden fought for the economic relief bill which will bring at least $15 million directly to the City of Santa Fe to help offset the significant COVID-19 related revenue losses in the last year and assist the City to continue key investments in our community. The American Recovery Plan will continue to help Santa Fe residents, businesses and unemployed workers in a variety of different ways from childcare, rental assistance, utility assistance, tax credits, nutrition assistance, and funding to support our businesses reopen and rebuild.” The improved bottom line also enables the City to start spending on programs that can’t wait to ramp up until the next budget, like weed control, bringing summer youth programs back to pre-COVID level, and Police Department personnel needs.
POLICE DEPARTMENT IS HIRING: In 2020 major crimes declined by 26% percent from 2019, and the department is building on that success by recruiting, hiring, and training new law enforcement officers and support staff. It will also do a deep data dive into staffing needs as the force builds for the future. “We may discover alternative opportunities for the best ways to provide public health and safety,” said Mayor Webber.
The department is bringing on four new patrol officers who are scheduled to start working next Monday. The new members are lateral hires, which means they are pre-qualified law enforcement officers who have served in other departments previously. “They don’t need to go to the Law Enforcement Academy and are able to hit the streets a lot sooner,” says Chief Andrew Padilla.
The department is currently offering a $15,000 hiring incentive for experienced Lateral Police Officers. Applicants must begin the hiring process before April 30, 2021, to be eligible for the incentive. In addition, experienced Lateral Police Officers will also receive 160 hours of leave. Interested applicants will find information at SFPDonline.com. They may also contact Recruiting Officer Blake Byford at (505) 955-5166 or [bot protected email address] to schedule a test.
Additionally, the Department expects to graduate six cadets from the Law Enforcement Academy in May and will begin training a new cadet cohort in July. This is expected to add another 10-15 officers to the force. The Academy reopened in January after a closure mandated by the pandemic.
The Santa Fe Police Department Training and Recruiting Unit will be conducting Police Cadet testing on April 10, 2021. This will be the final monthly testing session for the July 2021 Police Academy class. Candidates must go to SFPDonline.com to complete an interest card and submit an application to participate in the upcoming session.
In the spring, SFPD will restart the Patrol Safety Aide program, which hires young people out of high school interested in a career in law enforcement to train alongside and assist police officers and, if they choose, go on to enter the Police Academy and work for the department.
SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAMS HIRING SOON, TOO: Melissa Bustos, Youth Program Manager for the Recreation Department, provided local media with an update on plans for the summer: “With the consolidation of City youth programs under one umbrella, we are able to serve around 600-800 children this summer with fun education and safe programming. This also allows us to offer affordable programs on a sliding scale. Each summer camp site will receive the same high-quality programming with a wide range of activities like outdoor recreation, COVID-safe social games, swimming, ice skating, virtual field trips, and fun with food projects. With merging of youth programs we also have the opportunity to optimize our internal city resources, like partnering with the libraries, and grow partnerships within our community (Boys & Girls Club, ARTsmart, Santa Fe Public Schools).
We can offer summer job experience for 70 temp staff, typically teens in our community, which will provide them with not only extra income, but experience in leadership, responsibility, mentorship, and community bonding.
The Youth Program team and I are super-excited to reconnect with our youth and work towards meeting the needs of our families. Our focus is to reconnect our children with their passions, friends, and activities while providing a safe place for them to socialize coming out of this challenging time.”
“Kids have taken a hit with the lack of social experiences and outdoor exercise,” said Mayor Webber. “This is a critical part of Santa Fe’s re-opening.”
The summer jobs will be posted soon on santafenm.gov and information about summer camps will be posted within a couple of weeks on the City’s and Chavez Center’s websites.
TOURISM, SILVER LINING DEPARTMENT: There’s no sugar-coating the destructive impact of the pandemic on the retail and hospitality sectors, and TOURISM Santa Fe Director Randy Randall doesn’t even try. But he notes a couple of COVID-era innovations that he hopes will stick and contribute to long-term growth.
The website that the City stood up recently to benefit retail businesses, santafemarketplace.com, is starting to gain traction and Randall hopes that it will take off with the addition of individual artists and craftspeople. “People want to shop in Santa Fe from afar,” Randall said.
The Tourism Department has also been working to help restaurateurs to expand their outdoor-dining footprints onto City property and now on private property. “Continued expansion will allow restaurants to feel safe investing in outdoor spaces,” Randall said.
All that said, Randall predicts a gradual comeback for the hospitality industry: 50% this year plus 50% next year means he expects the hotel industry will be back to pre-COVID occupancy levels in 2023.