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City evaluates projects to put on hold


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As the city of Roswell creates its 2021 fiscal year budget under an expected 23% reduction in tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, its committees will evaluate which projects will likely not be funded.

Rather than being cut completely, however, projects will be put on hold, City Manager Joe Neeb told the City Council during a special meeting Monday.

“The nice thing about a project is if you take it out of this year’s budget, you can put it into a later year’s budget. It can just kind of go down the line and when the revenue becomes available again, you can do that project,” he said.

The city has about $27 million in projects it budgeted for fiscal 2020, Neeb said, and expects that to decrease to $21 million next year.

While city leaders plan to evaluate the budget throughout the year, city finances might not return to pre-pandemic levels, he said.

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“We believe that the first four months of the year will be a 40 to 50% reduction of the GRT, and then it will slowly, as the economy picks up, it will pick up to whatever the new norm is. I think some of the things that have happened in the last few months will not come back in the same format that it had,” he said.

That will result in a 20% overall budget reduction for personnel and operations, or about $10.3 million, Neeb said.

Capital outlay projects will likely see an equal reduction, he said.

“In the next month, we’ll be trying to reprioritize the projects with many of the planned projects possibly being put on hold to do those reductions,” Neeb said.

Juan Fuentes, administrative services director, outlined for the Infrastructure Committee earlier Monday what some of those projects might be and how they will be evaluated.

“As we are working on our fiscal year ‘21 budget, there are several projects that we have identified that we can at least put on hold until things kind of settle down, give us an opportunity to reassess what we can financially move forward,” Fuentes said.

Among those that could be delayed from the 2021 budget are a $420,000 project for the consolidated dispatch center that includes networking equipment and computer upgrades, a $169,000 request for repairs to the library roof, waterline replacements on Atkinson and Edgewood Avenue and other small water department projects totaling $1.6 million, and small wastewater projects of about $395,000, Fuentes said.

In addition, funds for projects will be reallocated from the general fund to their respective department funds, Fuentes said.

“For example, we have the capital project fund that historically has been used for a wide range of capital projects. We’re looking at transferring $930,000 of general fund capital expenses to the capital project fund,” he said.

From there, funds for road projects will be moved to the road fund, wastewater projects to the wastewater fund and so forth, Fuentes said.

“That way we have those funding sources specifically for the projects. Then the capital projects fund is used for other departments that cannot generate their own resources,” he said.

The shifting of funds will also help keep track of availability of funds.

“If there’s a shortfall in the road fund, it helps us to address how to shore up that road fund, and to some extent, it gives us a limit of how much we can spend,” Fuentes said.

Neeb told city councilors the Finance Committee will evaluate the need to adjust the budget throughout the next year.

“What we’ll be setting up through finance is essentially a quarterly check or temperature check,” he said. “Do we have any new revenue this quarter, do we have less? We’ll make adjustments to the budget as we walk through this thing.”

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.


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