LL budget calls for no pay increase

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Los Lunas village councilors approved the preliminary budget at the May 24 meeting without a salary increase for village staff.

Village Administrator Gregory Martin stressed that this is only a preliminary budget. The zero percent salary increase could change when village officials meet at the two upcoming budget workshops scheduled for June 19 and 20.

Councilor Charles Griego said the structured 1 to 2 percent staff and employee salary increases should be at zero percent at this time.

A few years ago, the village conducted a salary study of each position to get a benchmark compared to other municipalities, said Martin.

Over the past few years, the village council has approved a 1 to 2 percent salary increase adjustment.

"That's separate from a cost-of-living increase or a merit-based pay increase," said Martin. "And so we had that plugged in because it has been done in the past years. But the council asked us to back it out for the preliminary budget until they have the opportunity to discuss it further."

No salary increases were included in the preliminary budget, he said.

A budget workshop for the preliminary budget was not conducted because of the turn-over in the village administrator position when former Village Administrator Peter Fernandez retired.

As of May, the village's cumulative gross receipts taxes show a decline by about 5 percent, Martin said.

Last year, the GRT was about $9.8 million, and so far this year that figure is $9.3 million.

The largest expense planned for fiscal year 2012-13 is $1.3 million for the purchase of land and the relocation of families for the Morris Road Interstate corridor.

The second largest project from the general and infrastructure funds — budgeted at $750,000 — are improvements to the administration parking lot with rain water drainage and road improvements to Don Pasqual that include landscaping.

Another project is phase two of the village transportation center, budgeted at $355,195.

Phase two will include a master plan for the entire site, about three acres the village owns surrounding the center, plus improvements to the facility that include more office and tenant space and significant landscape improvements, such as shade trees, benches, loading areas, and bus shelters, said Christina Ainsworth, the community development director.

Landscape improvements to the entire site are planned first, and a re-configuration of existing parking areas to add landscaping improvements.

Next year, the village will save $89,000 by switching the core health insurance plan for staff and employees from Presbyterian to Lovelace Premier HMO Hybrid plan on July 1.

The vehicle maintenance building upgrades that were planned in the water and sewer department are on hold because projected revenues didn't support the projects, said Jim Blasing, utilities director.

He said this is a conservative approach to the department's budget, but it did have two emergencies this year that cost about $150,000 out of its operations and maintenance funds.

There was a sewer failure at Los Lentes and Castillo roads, and corrosion of the well shaft at well No. 6, which needed to be replaced.

The grand total for the village's capital outlay projects is estimated at $5.9 million, with estimated revenues at a little more than $15 million.

The beginning cash balance is more than $7.1 million, but the estimated ending cash balance is $5.1 million because expenses estimated at $16.6 million are about $500,000 more than revenues.

The final budget will be formalized at the budget workshops, then the council's approval will be sought before Aug. 1 when village officials will send it to Santa Fe, Martin said.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.