New Mexico offers new window into infrastructure spending
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is making it easier to monitor progress on local government construction projects through a new public webpage launched on Friday.
Designed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration, the capital outlay online dashboard aims to encourage efficiency and financial accountability as the state goes on a major spending spree for everything from sewers to cemeteries.
Lawmakers this year approved a $933 million infrastructure spending bill amid a surge in state government income. Most of those approved expenditures come directly from the state general fund to save money on borrowing costs.
The new website uses color-coded charts and data spreadsheets to indicate progress on local construction as spending deadlines approach.
Capital Outlay Bureau Chief Wesley Billingsley hopes that greater public scrutiny will ensure that state dollars are put to use quickly. The website's information is updated monthly.
The online dashboard allows people to sort through thousands of construction projects — including public school improvements — by county location; the corresponding local government or state agency; the date when lawmakers set aside funding and the deadline for spending money before it is automatically returned to state accounts.
Most of a $20 million appropriation this year for clean-energy building upgrades in the Santa Fe area already has been spent. About $330,000 set aside in 2016 for a gun violence memorial in Albuquerque has never been spent, ahead of a June 2020 completion deadline.
It's also simple to find out when a project has cleared a crucial initial hurdle — obtaining a grant agreement between a local government and a state agency.
Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said the dashboard can help state legislators track public works projects that they endorsed.
He encouraged the general public and journalists to use the website to improve accountability in general for authorized state infrastructure projects by searching the site and asking questions about persistent delays.