In a special meeting, the Roswell City Council approved an approximately 70-page budget for the 2012-2013 f[auth] iscal year that includes around $87 million in expenditures and accounts for the completion of the new barracks for the Youth ChalleNGe Academy and allots an additional $500,000 in city funds for the completion of the girls softball complex at the Wool Bowl. Councilor Elena Velasquez was the only member absent from the meeting.
City Manager Larry Fry said this year’s budget is comparable with past years in terms of total expenditures and revenues. The city is budgeting gross receipts tax flat in comparison to last year’s collections, he said.
“We had a very positive month during the month of July, which is May activity. We’re up about 12 percent, so we’re hopeful that is indicative of where we’re headed this year,” Fry said during an interview after the meeting. “We finished fiscal year 2012 up about 2.05 percent, compared to the same period in fiscal year 2011.”
Some major budget items include a state legislative appropriation for $2 million for a new Youth ChalleNGe facility near the Roswell Internaional Air Center. That money was generated through the $86 million capital outlay bill signed by Gov. Susana Martinez during the legislative special session in September 2011. Additionally the council included additional city funding to complete the girls softball complex, in an attempt to render the fields playable by spring 2013. Councilor Juan Oropesa urged the councilors to allot more funding for the complex, which he said has been a proposed budget item since the early 1990s. The only newly added position within the entire budget is the Roswell Police Department’s public information officer, a non-certified civilian position. The RPD recently hired Sabrina Morales to serve as its PIO.
“It’s tough to say no and its tough to see things that need to be done that we just don’t have the money to do. Hopefully with a little slack in the rope this coming year maybe we can do some of those things,” said Steve Henderson, chairman of the Finance Committee. “I get a little grumpy when we don’t have the funds to do what we want to do and we have to say no to things that we’d like to say yes to. But we can’t spend money we don’t have.”
In other business, the council approved the ratification of the collective bargaining agreement with the blue collar union. Fry estimated that the union consists of 200 city employees, or a third of the total employees. The union members will see a two percent increase in their salaries. Additionally, the council approved the year-end budget adjustments for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
“The city continues to be on very strong financial footing. Our bond rating remains strong and that in large part goes to the council’s willingness to continue to work within the confines of what our revenues are. I think the Finance Committee continues to be very diligent on how that is managed. Our accounting staff, our finance staff, our budget staff do just an outstanding job,” Fry said.