County budget down 6 percent; city’s up nearly by 22

August 4, 2014 • Local News

While Roswell city leaders have approved a $19.6 million increase in [auth] the city’s budget, Chaves County leaders have trimmed $2.8 million from the county’s authorized year-to-year spending, while also giving all county employees raises.

The Chaves County commissioners last month unanimously approved the county’s $43,354,116 budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The county’s projected spending from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, is a 6.1 percent reduction from the county’s 2013-14 budget of $46,200,394.

By contrast, the Roswell City Council last week approved a 21.7 percent increase in the city’s authorized expenditures from last fiscal year.

The city’s $110,332,668 budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year is a $19,658,552 increase in authorized spending from the city’s $90,674,116 budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The city’s budget passed 8-1 at an emergency City Council meeting Thursday, after failing to pass a roll call vote at a special City Council meeting on July 29.

City Councilor Steve Henderson cast the dissenting vote, saying he had concerns revenues would be sufficient to meet the city’s first-ever, nine-figure budget of $100 million-plus.

The city needed to pass a final budget by July 31 to meet a reporting deadline with the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

City leaders said the city’s budget expenditures will increase $19.6 million in a single fiscal year because of one-time only, non-recurring revenues and expenses totaling $23,667,965.

The city’s $110 million budget includes $8.5 million for a runway project at the airport, $4,699,000 for the North Main Street rehabilitation project, $2.7 million for bond refinancing, $2 million for New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe, $2 million for a clean water loan, $1,271,270 for a hangar project at the airport, $581,342 to pave the parking lot at DeBremond Stadium, $500,000 for a roofing project at Yucca Recreation Center, and $1,416,353 in other legislative appropriations.

The city is receiving state and federal matching funding for several of the capital projects.

The commissioners adopted their final budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year on July 24.

Both the city and county fiscal years began July 1.


Staff increases

Both the county’s and city’s budgets for the 2014-15 fiscal year add employees.

The county’s budget adds seven new full-time positions for the Chaves County Detention Center that is under renovation, while eliminating the county’s indigent health care position.

The indigent health care position, which is currently vacant, has been rendered obsolete with the expansion of Medicaid in New Mexico and the new federal health care law informally known as Obamacare.

The total number of county employees will increase from 260 to 267, said Chaves County chief financial officer Joe Sedillo. Four jail positions are being added this summer, with three more in January.

County Manager Stanton Riggs said the county has not added employees in 10 years. Riggs said the new positions were only necessary due to the $15 million jail renovation that is expected to be completed next year.

A half dozen more jail employees are expected to be added in future county budgets.

“Food service and medical service (costs) will also go up,” Riggs said.

Two-thirds of the jail renovation costs are being paid by the county.

The city’s budget adds three police officers to serve as school resource officers, one animal control officer, and a part-time custodian to the city’s 600-employee workforce.


Budget breakdowns

The county’s $43.3 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year entails $23,199,327 for operational costs, $10,215,611 for personnel, $9,332,178 for construction costs, and $607,000 for capital outlay projects.

Riggs said the operational costs of the county’s various departments were flat-lined from last fiscal year.

The county’s $43.3 million of authorized spending for the 2014-15 fiscal year is funded by $30,440,565 of projected revenues, with carry-over funds making up the difference.

The county’s 2013-14 fiscal year budget of $46,200,394 was predicated on $35,467,686 of projected revenues, and carry-over funds.

The city’s budget entails $35,769,315 for personnel, $32,768,593 for operational costs, and $41,794,760 for capital projects.

The city’s $110 million budget is funded by $91,560,053 of anticipated revenues, and $18,772,615 of carry-over funds from the city’s 2013-14 budget.


Pay raises

The county’s budget for 2014-15 includes 3 percent across-the-board wage increases for all county employees. The raises are the first cost-of-living increases for county employees in three years, when county employees also received 3 percent cost-of-living raises.

Sheriff Rob Coon said the pay raises for deputies would help the sheriff’s office with recruitment and retention.

“Everyone is very thankful for that,” Coon said.

The city’s budget for 2014-15 does not include across-the-board raises for city employees, although it does include $341,000 more for additional health insurance costs for city employees.

The county’s budget includes a 10 percent increase in the county’s costs for employee health insurance.

Riggs said this is the third straight year county employees have experienced double-digit increases in health insurance costs, rising 35 percent in three years.

The city’s 2014-15 fiscal year budget is predicated on a 2.5 percent increase in the city’s gross receipt tax collections.

Henderson said the city’s projected collections of GRT proceeds was “stretching the imagination of revenues.”

“I don’t think they’ll be there, but I hope I’m wrong,” Henderson said at the City Council’s meeting Thursday when the final budget was adopted.

County Commissioner Greg Nibert said the county’s purse strings would be tight for the next few years until a bond for the Chaves County Courthouse bond is paid off in 2019.

“In 2019, there should be some easing of the budget numbers,” Nibert said at the commissioners’ July 24 meeting. “Some projects that have been out on hold, we ought to be able to address them as a county. The overall budget, I think is good.”

Nibert and Commissioner Kyle “Smiley” Wooton said raising taxes was not an option.

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