Rec center grand opening announced; Compensation plan, smart water meters discussed
Approval last week of the city of Roswell’s preliminary budget indicates the upcoming budget will show a slight increase over the current year.
At a special council meeting on May 23, City Manager Joe Neeb explained this year’s preliminary budget is expected to be $77.9 million — with last year totaling $77.4 million. Neeb said personnel costs are higher and the city is attempting to limit its operational costs.
Neeb described the preliminary budget as the “first shake of the tree” to close one fiscal year and begin a new one. The city’s finance department will submit the preliminary budget to New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) by June 1.
Additionally, Neeb said the finance department will continue to “refine” the final budget, which requires the council’s approval. The city’s current fiscal year (FY 19) ends June 30 and FY 20 begins July 1.
Roswell City Councilors Jeanine Corn Best, Judy Stubbs, Juan Oropesa, Caleb Grant, Angela Moore, George Peterson, Steve Henderson and Barry Foster were present at the meeting. Councilors Savino Sanchez and Jacob Roebuck were absent.
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Two resolutions — one for the preliminary budget and the other accepting a financial audit statement for FY 18 — were unanimously approved by the eight city councilors.
Within the preliminary budget summary, Neeb said the city’s projected beginning cash will be more than $6.7 million as of July, along with $45,011,780 in revenue in the city’s general fund.
The projected ending cash was listed at $3,360,455 for June 30, 2020. Neeb said the ending cash is “important” for the city’s budget because “it feeds next year’s budget.”
Personnel expenses are budgeted at $30,861,433 and operating expenses were $8.4 million.
Conversations on capital outlay (legislative funding for improving or building public property) will continue, but Neeb said the city was successful in acquiring $500,000 in legislative funding for Roswell Police Department vehicles.
As part of another continuing conversation, Neeb touched on the city’s reserves, saying the city needs to ensure the $3.3 million projected ending cash would reach a threshold of $6-7 million for FY 21. The state requires cities to have one-twelfth of their annual income in reserves.
Finance Director Monica Garcia said the new Tyler Technologies software has been helpful to her department in this budget cycle. Neeb said the city’s transition into the Tyler system is continuing.
This year personnel, 85% of the budget, had to be entered manually and Neeb said the city is “excited for next year” when Tyler is up and running.
For changes to city increases, Neeb said there will be a 2.8% cost of living adjustment, a 2% merit or step increase and a 2% budget increase to have salaries budgeted at 100% instead of 98%.
Councilor Steve Henderson asked if the city’s compensation plan was “sustainable.” Neeb said he believed the plan is sustainable, but in need of a watchful eye as the city grows.
Neeb said the contract with Local 1249 of the International Association of Fire Fighters will now cost $250,000 per year. Through a memorandum of understating with the Roswell Police Officers Association, Neeb also said the city fixed the on-call pay and promotion system.
Garcia explained the personnel increase was due to adding the total cost of employees, including items such as meal programs, travel, training and uniforms, to the personnel line of the budget.
There will be no new program expenditures with the exception of the Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center, Neeb said. He said the city will be “looking out with a crystal ball” to determine the rec center’s expenses.
Grant commented that the rec center’s costs and revenue were a “big moving part” in the city budget. Grant said there have been conversations to analyze the rec center’s finances after the summer season to estimate expenses and revenue for the rest of the year.
Juanita Jennings, public affairs director, announced on the city’s Facebook page (City of Roswell, NM Government) this week that the indoor and outdoor pools had been filled. Jennings also announced the rec center’s grand opening will be on June 29 at 10 a.m.
Councilor Foster asked to see a monthly report of the city’s water revenue because of the water waste due to main breaks over the last year. In response to Foster, Kevin Dillon, the city’s facilities and maintenance director, said the amount of water loss is more accurate now that water usage is measured accurately.
Henderson also inquired if the $21 million smart water meter project meets the city’s original intention. Neeb confirmed that.
“We really want to talk about the projects that we’re trying to accomplish,” Neeb said. “And so we want to make sure that we are all in one, with one voice, one vision as far as what projects we believe are prioritized out until the money is no longer available for that …”
Neeb said a more comprehensive project list is in progress with assistance from City Engineer Louis Najar and Bill Morris, community development director, in order to “never forget another project.”
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.