BF employees to get raises next year

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Bosque Farms village councilors unanimously approved a preliminary budget for its next fiscal year that included a small raise for employees and called for the village to shoulder more of the health insurance costs.

Depending on their longevity with the village, the budget included raises ranging from 2 to 4 percent and shows the village picking up an additional 5 percent of employee insurance costs, leaving 15 percent to be paid by those on the insurance plan.

The budget proposed by staff also included a .5 mill increase on property taxes in the village, but the councilors agreed that in light of the recent sewer rate increase, now was not the time for another increase to residents.

That version of the budget also included a reduction in the amount transferred from the village's general fund into the water and sewer accounts. In past years, the village has had to transfer money to those funds, particularly the sewer fund, to keep them solvent.

The village increased sewer rates this year to make the fund more self sustaining.

"I don't want to put an additional burden on the residents at this time," Councilor Russ Walkup said. "Even if we have to take some money out of our nest egg, I like the raises and the village doing the 85 percent (of the health insurance.)"

Councilor Dolly Wallace said she was in total agreement with Walkup.

"We've already raised the sewer rates, we raised the water the year before. Those are supposed to balance our water and sewer funds," Wallace said. "After talking with DFA (New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration) they really want us to use property taxes for large projects. I think it would be very inappropriate to put in the .5 mill to pay for insurance or anything else. I'd like to save that tax availability for future projects."

The residents "need a little rest for a while," Councilor Bill Kennedy said.

Councilor Wayne Ake, who ran the meeting as mayor pro-tem in Mayor Bob Knowlton's absence, said he was leaning toward the increase in property taxes, but only in light of a recent bill from the Valencia County Detention Center.

"They are raising the daily rates on inmates from $70 to $85," Ake said. "I don't want to see us get to the point where, because of the budget, we don't put people in jail that should be there. I know the mayor wanted to see a reduction in water and sewer transfers but I will certainly go along if we can get the insurance and raises."

The council voted 3-0 to adopt the preliminary budget with the raises and the village paying 85 percent of employees' health insurance costs.

In an interview before the meeting, Village Clerk/Administrator Gayle Jones said the village's general fund is projected to collect about $2.5 million in revenues next fiscal year, with the sewer fund at about $500,000 and water fund slightly less at about $400,000.

Those two funds are considered enterprise funds and should be self sustaining, Jones said. The village receives other revenues in the form of grants and state funding, but that money is usually dedicated to a specific use such as emergency medical services and law enforcement, she said.

"This coming year's budget looks similar to last year's," Jones said. "Although we did see a small increase in our small cities assistance from the state."

The Legislature reworked the formula for this fiscal year, she said. The village budgeted $199,000 and has been told it will receive $372,000 for the fiscal year that will start in July, Jones said.

"We always budget conservatively on revenues," she said.

The village's gross receipts taxes look fairly flat for the coming year, Jones said.

"Right now, we're right on target for collections with where we budgeted," she said.

This fiscal year, the construction of Kelly's Liquor brought in additional revenue. The building of a new Beehive retirement facility could result in another small boost.

For the 2014-15 fiscal year, GRT is estimated to be about $590,000 for the municipality, but the state retains about 90 percent of that collection, Jones said.


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