Mayor, City Council proposed budgets seek 3 more graffiti removal workers

Graffiti on Cervantes Restaurant

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The unsightly, frustrating problem of graffiti has convinced Albuquerque leaders, including the mayor, to propose adding more graffiti removal technicians to the city’s clean-up crew.

Both the City Council and Mayor Richard J. Berry are proposing adding three more technicians to the Solid Waste Department’s team for fiscal year 2017 at a cost of $149,000. But Mayor Berry says it won’t cost taxpayers any extra money.

“There’s no additional fees with these three positions,” he said .”We’ve just become more efficient within the department, so now we have this additional savings that we can put toward three more of these graffiti experts.”

Right now, there’s 15 graffiti removal workers.

In 2015, the city averaged 50 calls for graffiti clean-up a day. So far in 2016, the daily average number of calls is about 70.

“We have 68,000 graffiti calls out every single year,” he said. “About a third of those come from our 311 calls and our new [smartphone or tablet] app.”

The other two-thirds come from crews simply patrolling the streets, looking for taggings.

“We just want to make sure our city is beautiful,” the mayor said. “And as we have calls for service we just want to get out there and have them taken care of quickly.”

Heights Key, Lock & Safe Inc. Vice President Gwen McGranahan said the idea of more city workers removing graffiti is something she can get behind.

On Monday morning, she arrived at her business at San Mateo and Lomas to find it had been scribbled on again.

“We’ve gotten tagged on the side and in the back,” she said. “We’ve been open since 1957, so probably a hundred times.”

This incident was especially irritating, because the building underwent a face lift just a week earlier. The fresh exterior look was too quickly ruined.

“It’s disturbing, and yes, very annoying,” she said.

The city budget is expected to be voted on Monday night at City Council. KRQE News 13 will update this story as more information becomes available.

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