Finance committee looking to trim budget

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

City finance committee members took their first run at the Portales city budget on Thursday and they will be reviewing the budget to see how they can trim $52,246 to balance the budget.
Portales city manager Debi Lee said she and Marilyn Rapp, city treasurer, have already been reviewing and cutting from the budget before presenting a pre-liminary budget to the Portales finance committee on Thursday. Committee members will be looking at a budget before their next budget meeting. The members will be looking at a recommended budget of $6,574,906, which is $52,246 higher than they want.
“Our hopes is that we get that ($52,246) to zero,” Lee told the finance committee members. “We’re committed to doing that.”
The two major expenses for the city are the Portales Police Department and the Portales Fire Department. The recommended budget for the Portales Police Department is $1.88 million for the 2005-06 fiscal year, up from the $1.83 million budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year.
The recommended budget for the fire department is $1.52 million for the 2005-06 fiscal year. The fire department received $1.44 million for the 2004-05 fiscal year.
Lee said she has talked with Portales Recreation Center director Johnny Ledbetter and she said they are considering reducing the hours the recreation center is open. Lee said the recreation center is currently open until 8:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday. She said she will be recommending the recreation center close at 6 p.m. nightly to have funding for the parks and sports fields.
“We have so many users in the parks and sports fields,” Lee said. “We needed to find a way to address them. The parks have a lot of need. I think they should be one of our priorities in getting the resources they need.”
Lee said she wants to see the money used for maintenance of the parks and fields.
Municipal Court Judge Fred Arnold said he wanted a salary increase for him from $15,500 to $19,072 annually. Arnold said the position was only paid at $12,000 for more than 10 years before it went up to $15,500.
“It’s not just an elected official,” Arnold said. “The position also fills as a department head. I think this will bring it more in line with what it (pay) should be.”
Lee said city officials are looking at a 3 percent increase in pay for city employees who are recommended for a raise by their supervisors. Lee said she and Rapp have estimated a revenue amount from gross receipt taxes, but Lee hopes more than the estimated revenue amount will be generated with the help of added development and spending.
“I want to be able to put it (in for) the employees,” Lee said. “I want to make sure we pay them and get the resources for them. I believe this maintains a good delivery of service.”