LL revenues flat, budget conservative

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Los Lunas village officials have streamlined next year's budget because revenues remain flat, but they hope revenues will pick up when large residential and commercial developments are built.

"It may or may not impact us in the next fiscal year but, as you know, the hospital has been announced to be built here in Los Lunas, which would be a significant economic boost," said Los Lunas Village Administrator Gregory Martin. "We're optimistic, but cautious about the budget situation."

The administrator based the new budget on last year's revenues of roughly $36 million, without any increase in revenue. Even so, the village budget is overspent by about $1.4 million. This can be absorbed through its current cash balance of $5.6 million, but will leave the ending cash balance at about $4.2 million, while still maintaining the 10 percent reserve fund required by the state.

Critical projects will continue to be funded, and village services will be maintained, Martin said.

Councilors approved the interim 2013-14 budget May 23.

The total budget is $37.4 million, with $16.8 million set aside for high-priority projects. These include the east side water loop, additional membrane bioreactor filters at the waste water treatment plant, the ongoing corridor study funding, some road improvement projects and the $1.2 million Interstate 25 beautification project.

The interstate project is funded mostly by the New Mexico Department of Transportation with a $300,000 match from the village.

The budget contains no staff salary increases, and a few departments have been consolidated. The community service department now houses parks and recreation, the roads department as well as the DWI program and the information technology department has been moved from community development to the administration department. Each department has had some budget reductions compared to last year, said Martin.

"I would characterize the budget as conservative," he said. "Somewhat less than maybe the status quo because there were plenty of requests that were not able to be funded."

The village is operating with a freeze on salaries, hiring and new positions, he said, and, if a position becomes vacant, it will be evaluated before it is filled.

Other village expenditures include replacing the antiquated municipal financial software system, which will cost about $350,000, and providing matching funds on federal grants to upgrade roads.

Road projects include Los Cerritos Road, pedestrian improvements on N.M. 314 and safety enhancements on N.M. 47 and Appaloosa, Martin said.

Other expenditures include $334,000 for the eastern water loop route study, survey and engineering design, and $304,000 to change two village water wells from chlorine gas treatment to a hypochlorite water disinfectant treatment system.

Grants and other funding sources are being sought for the $1.9 million membrane bioreactor filter expansion project, and $100,000 is budgeted to keep on hand in the event such funding is found and matching funds are required.

The solid waste department will purchase a new bailer to increase recycling capabilities at a cost of $345,000, and legislative appropriation funding of $475,000 has been budgeted for the Enchantment Little League field enhancements and cosmetic improvements such as parking, fencing, drainage and two new entrances.

"The budget is tight," Martin said. "But we've still been able to maintain what we believe is the current level of service for the residents, and we'll be looking at other revenue sources as well as other potential budget reductions that can be made as we move forward into this next fiscal year."

Officials are also preparing for losses in state Hold Harmless Act funding set to begin in July 2015

The Hold Harmless Act allows New Mexico residents to buy food, prescription drugs and some medical expenses tax-free, which it will continue to do.

The state has subsidized local governments for the revenue loss under the act, but repealed it during the last legislative session. Municipalities can raise gross receipts taxes as much as three-eighths percent.

Currently, the village's GRT is about 7.6 percent. If it is raised by three-eighths percent, it would rise to about 7.9 percent.


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