News Column

City moving forward with study on public bank

August 13, 2014

By Daniel J. ChacÓn, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Aug. 13--The idea of creating a public bank in Santa Fe is gaining traction.

The city is seeking someone qualified to study the feasibility of establishing a publicly owned bank that would help finance public projects, provide better returns on taxpayer investments and reduce the risk of public funds in existing financial markets.

The deadline for interested parties to submit their qualifications is September, the same month that the Public Banking Institute and a citizen-led group pushing the idea will host a national symposium on the topic in Santa Fe.

"We are expecting some 900 people from across the country to see if we can pull off a public bank in Santa Fe," Janiece Jonson, a member of WeArePeopleHere!, which is advocating the idea, said via email.

"In New Mexico, one of the poorest states, the establishment of public banks could be a game-changer for local economies and a score in the battle against plutocracy, starting in Santa Fe," she said.

The symposium is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.Sept. 27 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Tickets are $40, or $10 for students. For more information or to buy tickets, go to

The symposium follows an invitation-only meeting in June that Mayor Javier Gonzales organized to introduce city councilors and others to the concept of public banking. When he was running for mayor, Gonzales talked about public banking on the campaign trail and how it could leverage government assets to stimulate community investment.

Kate Noble, acting director of the city's Housing and Community Development Department, said the request for qualifications for the feasibility study was issued Thursday. Respondents must provide in-depth answers to a handful of questions, including how a public bank could be executed and what "broad steps" would be involved.

"We don't know what we're going to get," Noble said. "We have to keep learning and looking and understanding how something like a public bank might layer onto the community of Santa Fe."

In its request for qualifications, the city said it wants a "preliminary comparison" on the city's current financial model, specifically the benefits and risks of current banking and financing practices in Santa Fe, and other models in the U.S., including public banks.

City documents state, "Any analysis should take into account the financial and population demographics of the City of Santa Fe. It should also include measurable factors of city banking which include, but is not limited to, debt servicing costs, profits returned to the City, municipal and other tax revenue, and other key areas of economic concern."

Contact Daniel J. ChacÓn at 986-3089 or Follow him on Twitter at @danieljchacon.


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Source: Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)

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