Home News Local News County projects $63.9 million in 2022 expenses

County projects $63.9 million in 2022 expenses

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“We are always trying our best to ask for only what is absolutely needed,” says Chaves County Chief Financial Officer Anabel Barraza, who presented an interim fiscal year 2022 budget Thursday with total expenses of $63.9 million. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Interim budget includes $12.55 million in federal relief funds for the year

Chaves County commissioners are considering an interim fiscal year 2022 budget with $63.9 million in total expenses that the lead financial officer represented as a “flat” budget with tax revenues still impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Anabel Barraza, the chief financial officer for the county, told commissioners during a Thursday morning workshop at the Chaves County Administrative Center that budget numbers could change between now and May 20, when the Board of Commissioners is expected to vote for the interim budget.

If approved, the budget will be sent to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration for review. Once the state approves the interim budget, it becomes effective for the 2021-22 fiscal year starting July 1. A final budget is prepared that month after cash balances from the 2020-21 fiscal year are known. Mid-year adjustments sometimes are made around December or January.

Barraza told commissioners that $12.55 million in federal relief funding from the American Rescue Plan signed into law in March has been built into the budget, with about half expected in a month and the remaining funds by next summer. County Manager Bill Williams said the county is considering using some of the money to build a new site for the Department of Health. The existing site, which the county is required to provide for the community, is aging, Williams said, and he liked the idea of using the funding for something lasting.

While the county is financially sound, it is still dealing with the expectation of lower tax income due to the effects of the pandemic.

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“We are in the black in all of our funds,” said Barraza. She added that county employees were conservative in their gross receipts tax estimates for the coming year, which represent about 25% of total revenues.

“As you know, our gross receipts have been declining, and right now we are at a 7.83% decrease compared to last year,” she said. “So upon the recommendation of the Finance Committee, we cut those projections for next fiscal year back 15%, just because we know that there is still a lot of industries that have been impacted by the pandemic.”

According to information presented during the workshop, fiscal year 2022 operating revenues are projected at $27.47 million, while operating expenses are estimated at $27.63 million.

Total revenues — which include grants and contracts — have been put at $57.64 million, while total expenses – including $3.33 million for emergency and capital outlay spending – are $63.9 million.

Barraza said that the deficit between the expenses and revenues are within the county’s tolerance levels.

Compared to the 2021 interim budget, operating expenses and revenues are similar, but a $12.8 million difference in total expenses between the two years exists.

The interim budget in fiscal year 2021 had total expenses of $51.1 million and total revenues of $47.31 million. Operating revenues were $26.77 million, and operating expenses were $26.64 million.

On Thursday, budget requests by department administrators included only three additional positions by the Sheriff’s Office, Integrated Technology Services and the Treasurer’s Office. The Chaves County Detention Center also asked to reclassify an officer position so that it could create a deputy administrator position.

The budget also includes initial allocations for outside entities such as the towns of Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur; economic development organizations in the county; and agencies that provide services on behalf of the county. Current requests total $498,094, with the entities budgeted to receive about what they did last year. Pending requests for $20,000 from the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce and $50,000 from MainStreet Roswell also are expected soon, although it is not known at this time if those items will be approved as is or at all by commissioners.

Capital project funding includes about $274,000 for equipment and furniture, $400,000 for an ongoing project to upgrade emergency radio communication equipment and $150,000 to complete the elevator at the Chaves County Courthouse. There are also three improvement projects planned for the Administrative Center: $350,000 to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system; $500,000 for the renovation of Area D to relocate the emergency communications center; and $845,000 for a new roof.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.