County expects no revenue shortfalls

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Socorro County Commission approved the county’s third 2013 quarterly report to the state Department of Finance and Administration during the commission’s regular meeting April 23.

Roberta Smith, county finance director, said that as of the end of the quarter March 1, the county’s cash balance was just over $13 million, including investments, and the general fund was at just over $5 million. She said the general fund revenues were short by about $500,000 because the county hasn’t yet received its PILT funding, which accounts for about one-quarter of the county’s revenue.

PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes, is federal funding distributed to counties that have federal land within their borders, such as military bases, national forests, etc. PILT is meant to make up for the property taxes counties can’t collect on federal land.

Smith said each line item of the county’s revenue is meeting or exceeding what the county originally budgeted, and she anticipates no shortfalls in the general fund revenue.

Smith said overall expenses are right where they should be, but transfers out of the general fund for the detention and solid waste departments are putting the general fund over budget.

Smith said in addition to the detention center and solid waste department, other funds over budget include the senior center, DWI program, technology department and senior volunteer program. She said the county can probably expect to contribute or subsidize about $300,000 for those at the end of the year, which will have to come out of the reserve fund.

“Most of this is going to be for the detention center and solid waste,” Smith said. “I don’t anticipate the other ones being that much.”

Smith said the county’s emergency management department is still waiting for federal reimbursements from 2010 expenditures. She said if the reimbursements don’t come in by the end of the fiscal year, the county will have to contribute about $200,000 from its reserves to that fund. Walsh noted the reimbursements are handled through the Department of Homeland Security.

Smith said the reimbursements will come in, she just doesn’t know when. She noted Fred Hollis, emergency management coordinator and county fire marshal, calls Homeland Security every month about the matter.

“But they just don’t give us any response,” Smith said.

District 1 Commissioner Pauline Jaramillo, who chaired the meeting in the absence of District 4 Commissioner Daniel Monette, asked if there was any way the county could get a response because 2010 was a long time ago. Walsh said she will talk to the new state director of Homeland Security, adding there have been a few state directors since 2010 because people keep getting promoted from the position.

The commission approved the DFA third quarterly report, then Smith discussed her finance report. She said all of the county’s departments are doing well with hardly any purchasing violations at all over the past couple of months.

“So it’s been really nice,” Smith said.

Smith acknowledged the efforts of Jennifer Amaro, who has been handling purchases for the sheriff’s department over the last four months. During that time, the sheriff’s department has had no purchasing violations. Before Amaro took over, Smith said the sheriff’s department had a couple of purchasing violations every week.

Smith said the county will have a $1.4 million deficit if all the departments are given what they’re asking for in fiscal year 2014.

During her county manager’s report later in the meeting, Walsh said although county revenues are increasing for 2014, fuel costs and other costs the county has no control over are going up.

Walsh also said the U.S. Forest Service recently requested 5.1 percent of SRS, or Secure Rural Schools, funding back from states due to federal sequestration. She explained SRS Title 1 money goes to fund the county’s road department; SRS Title 3 money funds the county’s FireWise program; and SRS Title 2 is RAC money, which comprises competitive grants. RAC stands for “resource advisory committee.”

Walsh said the county received a letter from Ryan Gleason, director of the local government division of the state Department of Finance and Administration, that stated New Mexico is protesting the Forest Service request. If the state has to return the money it will just return state RAC funds, which have not yet been distributed to counties. However, Walsh said the county can probably expect 5 percent less in SRS funding from the federal government next year.

In other business, the Socorro County Commission:

• Approved a resolution to comply with the state’s newly amended Open Meetings Act, which now requires public bodies to post their agendas 72 hours in advance of meetings and put agendas on their websites. Walsh noted the OMA amendments don’t affect Socorro County since the county already has its agenda posted four days before meetings and already posts its agendas on its website.

• Adopted federal Fair Housing and Community Development Block Grant policies. Walsh said the county must adopt the policies every year so it can accept CDBG funding.

• Approved a credit card request for the county road department. Walsh said the county has credit cards for various departments with $500 limits, and one in the manager’s office with a higher limit for larger emergencies. Marty Greenwood, road department director, said he requested the credit card because some supplies needed in the road department are available online at a much lower cost than they are available locally. Greenwood said the department will limit its online purchases and buy local whenever possible.

• Tabled a contract amendment with Summit Foods, which prepares food for the Socorro County Detention Center and manages the jail’s commissary. The amendment includes a 2 percent increase in price. Walsh suggested the commission table the amendment to see if county staff can negotiate a better deal with the company.

• Approved vendor checks totaling $286,219.49 issued April 8, 12 and 18.

• Approved payroll checks and direct deposits totaling $170,667.42 issued April 17.