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GRT collections remain ahead of city budget

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After taking a slight dip below projections the previous month, the city’s Gross Receipts Tax distribution was above budget for February.

The city budgeted $2.6 million in GRT collections but collected almost $3.3 million, a difference of about $636,000, Administrative Services Director Juan Fuentes told the Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee at its meeting Thursday morning.

The February taxes received were from sales activity in December, Fuentes said.

“So there was quite a bit of people out there shopping and hopefully that will continue in the coming months,” he said.

In January, the city’s GRT collections were $2.6 million, about $13,000 below what the city had budgeted. Other than that one month, GRT collections have been ahead of what the city budgeted for at the outset of the pandemic a year ago.

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In fiscal 2021 to date, the city has collected $6.1 million more than it budgeted.

“All in all, it’s been positive for us because we’ve been able to build on the reserve for our budget coming into the next fiscal year,” Fuentes said.

In comparison to previous years, the city’s GRT collections year-to-date are 2.5% above fiscal 2019 but below fiscal 2020 by 16%.

The fiscal year ends in June and the city is already in the process of preparing its fiscal 2022 budget. Fuentes presented the committee a schedule for its progress.

City departments were to submit their budgets Friday and those will be reviewed in the coming week.

The preliminary budget will be brought to the Finance Committee on May 6, with the full council expected to review it at its May 18 meeting. It must be submitted to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration by June 1.

The full council will review and consider approving the final budget at its July 12 meeting. The final budget is due to be submitted to the state by the end of July.

In lodgers’ tax collections, room occupancy was up slightly in January from December, but the actual tax revenue was down slightly. Occupancy was at 35.2% for January compared to 34.3% in December. Tax collection in January was $63,545 compared to $63,860 in December.

Convention center fees were up slightly for January, at $40,087. That’s an increase of about $2,400 from the previous month.

Convention center fees are about 20% below collections year-to-date compared to last year, however.

Tourism Director Stephanie Mervin spoke about how recovery in the lodgers’ tax and convention center fees might look in the coming year. Occupancy will likely rebound faster than hotels’ average daily rate, or the average rate paid for an occupied room, she said.

“It’s looking like the trend is slower to increase ADR. We’ll probably increase occupancy a little faster because of the restrictions,” she said.

“Our best month in 2018, which was July, we were at 80% occupancy with $99.60 ADR. This past year we were at 48% occupancy with an ADR of $80. It will slowly take a curve up to a peak and we will have to see how things open up,” she said.

At Thursday’s meeting, Councilor Juan Oropesa was absent. Committee members Jason Perry, Jacob Roebuck and Margaret Kennard unanimously voted to recommend the following items for approval:

• Adding new Finance Director Janie Davies as an additional signer on all city bank accounts. That item is on the full council’s consent agenda for March 11.

• A resolution amending the fiscal year 2021 budget with $327,180 in revenue from various funds and $1 million in expenses from various funds. That is also on the council’s consent agenda.

• A resolution authorizing the sale of surplus property consisting of outdated computers and other technology originally purchased between 2001 and 2015. The items have been determined to have no value and will be auctioned online. Because this is the first such resolution under a new surplus property policy approved at February’s council meeting, it will go on the council’s regular agenda for March 11.

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