Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

City commission passes preliminary budget

 

June 3, 2020



The Tucumcari City Commission on Thursday passed a preliminary city budget for fiscal year 2021 that will leave a $489,000 deficit in the city’s general fund, which is covered by reserve allowances and cash expected to remain at the end of this fiscal year.

Fiscal 2021 begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2021.

The budget calls for laying off one full-time employee and two part-time employees and converting eight full-time positions into part-time jobs, said Rachelle Arias, the city’s finance director, to the commission. The city must make the personnel cuts to make ends meet as less tax revenue is expected due to the COVID-19-related economic slowdown and increases in the minimum wage.

The commission approved the preliminary budget on a 3-1 vote. District 1 Commissioner Ralph Moya abstained, saying he “needed more information.” Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield did not attend. District 5 Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Todd Duplantis presided over the meeting.

While state law apparently prohibits details of the budget from being revealed, Arias told the commission the general fund is expected to collect nearly $5 million in revenues next year. Overall, however, the city expects to have a surplus in all city funds, she said.

The preliminary budget was expected to be submitted to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration by Monday, the state’s deadline.

In about 30 days, the preliminary budget should be returned to the city after a review that usually includes suggested changes. By July 30, the budget should be finalized and made public, according to DFA.

The commission discussed some details of the budget, mostly questions to Arias and acting city manager Mark Martinez, during a public work session before the regular commission meeting to clarify how numbers were derived in the city’s fund accounting system.

Martinez said more hardship in budgeting is expected for fiscal 2022 as the city deals with significant increases in the state minimum wage.

At the work session, the commission also held an executive session involving pending litigation but made no decisions.

Besides approving the budget at its regular meeting Thursday, the commission:

• Approved a annual memorandum of understanding between the Eastern Plains Community Action Agency’s Head Start program and the Tucumcari Senior Center to operate a Foster Grandparent program that matches children with special needs to visit 15 to 30 hours a week with senior citizen volunteers who provide companionship.

• Approved an $8,191.51 change order for the Mountain Road water line project to correct a part specification order and move a pipe casing.

Martinez requested a special commission meeting June 4 to accept a bid for construction of the Second Street resurfacing and improvement project.

“We got behind on this because of COVID-19 and other things,” he said, “but we need to get it moving.”

Bids were expected to be opened Tuesday.

Martinez also reported with help from a National Park Service grant, a new sign would mark the Robert Lumpkin Disk Golf Course at Five Mile Park.

Grant funds are being sought for sponsorship of each of the course’s 18 holes and for a small obelisk honoring Lumpkin, who served as a commissioner and mayor pro tem until his death in 2018.

Martinez also reported arrangements are going smoothly in transferring Tucumcari Housing Authority property and management to the Eastern Regional Housing Authority based in Roswell, an office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Several commissioners commented on properties that have been allowed to become dilapidated and overgrown with weeds. They included the closed KFC restaurant on First Street near Interstate 40, the collapsed building on Second Avenue north of Main Street and the old Relax Inn site on Route 66, as well as some long-neglected properties on Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets.

Duplantis said he does not like to see volunteer crews having to clean up the KFC and Relax Inn sites when a property owners neglect them.

“Maybe we should sent them citations instead of letters,” he said.

In response to a question from Moya, Martinez said “we can’t talk about it right now, but we are making progress” in working with the property owner to clear the site.

Duplantis also said he would like to see the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display take place, even if isolation restrictions due to COVID-19 are in effect.

Duplantis also urged extra courtesy in the face of COVID-19 restrictions, especially on wearing masks.

 
 

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