Quay officials approve preliminary budget
June 3, 2020
The Quay County Commission on May 26 unanimously approved a preliminary $16.16 million budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 its finance director said would give 3% pay increases to workers but no changes to property taxes.
Finance Director Cheryl Simpson said after the meeting the budget rose from $13.475 million, or 21%, in the previous year. She said the increase is attributed to the county receiving more than $3 million in state appropriations, mostly for a new bridge that will be built on Old Route 66 between San Jon and Endee.
Simpson said the county’s budget was due to the state June 1 and can be adjusted in July. She said it also reflects a 3% increase in insurance premiums and an anticipated freeze in capital-outlay allocations.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called for a special session June 18 of the New Mexico Legislature to address budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Many capital-outlay projects are expected to be on the chopping block during the session.
Commissioner Sue Dowell described the effort to preserve county jobs during what likely will be a trying fiscal year as “heroic.” Commission Chairman Franklin McCasland also praised county leaders for “doing their jobs efficiently” and a “frugal” approach.
Simpson said she found it “comforting” no layoffs are anticipated in the coming year.
County manager Richard Primrose said he expects a downturn in gross-receipts tax revenue in the coming months, but “we don’t budget everything we receive in gross-receipts tax.”
Later in the meeting, Primrose said the gross-receipts tax report for March showed a slight downtown from March 2019, but he was “surprised it was as good as it was” and added: “Apparently more people bought local.” The state began to impose COVID-19 restrictions in the latter half of the month.
Primrose said after the meeting that March 2019 was an unusually good year for gross-receipts revenue in the county because of construction of a new U.S. 54 bridge near Logan. He said he expects a steeper downtown in that revenue in April.
On a related note, county road superintendent Larry Moore reported the county will see $45,000 less in cooperative and school-bus route funds for local roads because of the state budget crunch. He said he rearranged his budget so his department would drop only one school-bus route from its maintenance schedule.
In other business:
• The commission approved a yearly Emergency Management Performance Grant application that pays half, or $16,083, or Emergency Management Coordinator Daniel Zamora’s salary and benefits.
Zamora told the commission about several upcoming projects, including finishing a tactical interoperability communications plan, a mass casualty incident plan and an evacuation plan. He said an evacuation plan is needed because of the region’s vulnerability to wildfires and the possibility of a rollover accident on Interstate 40 involving U.S. Department of Energy trucks carrying radioactive material.
• Primrose said the county’s worker’s compensation insurance cost dropped by 50%, or $27,000, for the coming year, because the county is “doing well” in that regard.
• County Treasurer Patsy Gresham said her office recently mailed 350 letters to property owners who owed more than three years in taxes. She said the letters urge recipients to pay the third-year tax amount or “as much as they can.” After that, delinquent taxes will be referred to the state, which would collect on the outstanding amounts and penalties instead of the county.