Update: The Roswell City Council meeting where a vote on the upcoming 2023-24 budget could occur is at 4 p.m. on Thursday, which is two hours earlier than originally reported. This story has been updated to reflect this. Also disregard the later time listed in the latest Week Ahead calendar.
The Finance Committee recommended the budget be submitted to the city council for review during a special meeting on Monday afternoon. The spending plan was the subject of a council workshop after the committee meeting.
The city of Roswell is proposing a budget of $142.7 million for the 2023-24 fiscal year, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2024, according to information prepared for city officials.
Another change was announced Monday, though it will affect the current 2022-23 budget: The need to add an allocation of nearly $1.5 million for employee life insurance and health benefits.
This year’s total is shaping up to be comparable to the $145 million budget originally filed with the state for this current fiscal year. That budget is said to be 13% higher than that for the previous fiscal year of 2021-22, however.
There is a budget reserve of $12.4 million in this proposal. Cities in New Mexico are required to have just one-third of that amount.
About $1.7 million in vacant positions won’t be filled, specifically 29 full-time and 21 part-time jobs, said Janie Davies, the city’s finance director. Most positions are budgeted with only 1% cost of living adjustments in the spending proposal.
Among requests for funding this year is the creation of a hybrid position that adds a city attorney who specializes in community development. The attorney would focus on city code creation and updates, as well as land use and development law matters.
This new employee would report to the city manager.
The community development director position that came open with the dismissal of that employee in March will be eliminated.
City staff suggested a compensation package for the new position totaling $170,000. That amount was significantly reduced while being discussed during the Finance Committee meeting. Councilor Edward Heldenbrand urged that the total compensation be reduced to $130,000 because the amount was too high — especially for starting off.
Ambulance services are being budgeted at $1.3 million. AMR said the annual service fee of $165,000 would need to be increased to $2.65 million as of July 1. Negotiations between the city and the ambulance service continue.
And a request from the Municipal Court for $78,490 for a maintenance project was omitted by the Finance Committee until more information about it is submitted.
There are 686 positions in city government, excluding the mayor and 10 city council members. Police and fire have nearly 220 workers — 125 and 94.5 positions, respectively. The other large group of city employees are employed by solid waste, water-sewer and wastewater treatment plant departments, which is a total of 111.
City Manager Chad Cole said overall budgeting needs to be better planned from now on so that there is less reliance on cash.
Also added to the budget was an allocation of $960,000 for the purchase of two side-loading trucks for use by the Solid Waste department. This operation had to ask councilors for permission to purchase a truck or risk upending the schedule for trash pickups.
Councilor Robert Corn, who chairs the Finance Committee, said more attention needs to be paid to details early in the budget process, specifically during there first half of the fiscal year.
No action was taken during the workshop. The city council is scheduled to vote on whether to submit the proposed budget to the state during a special meeting that begins at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Roswell Convention Center, 912 N. Main St.
Further revisions to the plan are expected up until the special meeting.
The deadline for submitting the spending plan to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, Local Government Division for its review is June 1. This state entity will let the city know whether it’s an acceptable plan on or before July 1, according to the report by the Finance Department used by the committee and the council.
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