The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Council tightens city's belt

 


Staff writer

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Decreases in revenues and gross receipts taxes have pushed the city’s administration into creating a conservative budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

During Thursday’s interim budget workshop, Portales city councilors reviewed and approved the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which had a decrease in gross receipts taxes from last year’s budget of 5.74 percent.

The gross receipts revenue budgeted for this year totals $5.3 million, a drop from last year’s revenues of $5.6 million.

Portales City Manager Doug Redmond said the city’s gross receipts collection, which has been stagnant, makes up 75 percent of the city’s general fund revenue.

“We have not seen any growth,” Redmond said.

That inactivity caused city officials to look at other areas of the budget to cut and save money.

Although officials know it won’t be a popular decision, they recommended the city suspend pay plans for all positions, which means no scheduled step increases will take place. The city is also under a hiring freeze with the exception of a few key positions.

Redmond said even though the city is delaying those raises, it is better than increasing premiums in insurance for employees because that would mean less money in their take home pay.

Councilor Michael Lucero said he feels it’s important the council remain transparent and visit individual city departments to explain why these changes areas being made.

Portales Mayor Sharon King said other surrounding municipal governments had to make similar changes and delay pay increases for employees.

Here are the highlights from Thursday’s meeting:

• The city’s estimated operating budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year is $28.1 million and the estimated general fund is $8.6 million.

• Salaries decreased by 4.76 percent to $4.5 million. The changes in the salaries budget are related to a 67 percent decrease in the Park Department due to hiring summer workers and a loss of two full-time positions and other factors.

• The travel budget was cut by 12 percent from last year to $50,650.

• The supplies budget was cut by 13 percent to $431,530.

• The city requested $415,849 for capital projects and received $153,500. Officials will use that money for downtown street lights, which is a contractual obligation in the U.S. 70 construction project, and $50,000 worth of pool repairs to the Portales Swimming Pool.

• King mentioned that gross receipts took a hit because of a decline in construction projects in the city but she expects them to grow with upcoming projects including the building of Eastern New Mexico University’s new football stadium.

 
 

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