Some good news, some bad for county finances

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The Socorro County Commission approved several financial items and discussed no good news for the budget this coming year during its meeting July 23.

The first items were miscellaneous year end budget adjustments for fiscal year 2012-2013, which ended in June.

County finance director Roberta Smith said there were only a few adjustments for the road department, and staff only had to adjust revenue as the department did not go over on expenses. She explained they had to adjust for the Title II RAC money that never came in. County manager Delilah Walsh said the county will see federal RAC money come in by the end of September.

Commissioners approved three resolutions for the miscellaneous budget adjustments, and discussion went to budgeted versus actual cash balances for June.

Smith said most of the county’s actual revenues exceeded what had been budgeted for fiscal year 2012-13, and not many expenses exceeded the amounts the county had budgeted.

Smith said PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes from the federal government, came in $200,000 more than what the county had budgeted. Current property taxes came in $143,000 more than budgeted, and property tax interest came in $102,000 more than budgeted.

“So in general fund we did really well,” Smith said. “The only overage we had in the general fund was for the transfers out for the detention and solid waste. But we did make up for those transfers due to the fact that we received a lot more revenue than what we originally budgeted for.”

Smith said the county road fund didn’t have such a good year; the road department used about $600,000 from its cash reserves when they had only budgeted to use about $250,000 from reserves. She said the main reason was the county expensed all of its Title II RAC funds and Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, and then didn’t get the money from the federal government. Both RAC and FEMA funds are expected to come in this fiscal year, she said.

Commission chairman and District IV Commissioner Daniel Monette asked about the $79,000 deficit in the fire and emergency grant fund. Smith explained Fred Hollis, emergency services coordinator, still has not received his reimbursements through the state Department of Homeland Security. Smith has discussed the matter at previous commission meetings. She said Hollis has only recently received reimbursements from 2010 expenditures.

Walsh noted the state Homeland Security office continues to have turnover because staff keep getting promoted. Smith added Hollis plans to go to Santa Fe and meet with whoever is in charge now.

Next on the table was the fourth quarterly report for fiscal year 2012-13. Smith said the county had budgeted for a $97,000 deficit, but that was not what they ended the year with since extra revenue that hadn’t been budgeted filled the gap.

Smith said the county’s overall cash balance increased over $3.9 million in FY 2012-13, to over $13.5 million. However, about $5 million was from jail bond revenue, and some of that will be spent this fiscal year as the county begins work on its new jail.

Smith noted the opposite was true for the road fund as the road department used over $600,000 in cash reserves. Walsh said the county is looking at over $500,000 of FEMA and RAC money to come into the road fund.

The commission approved the fourth quarterly report for fiscal year 2012-13 and moved on to adopt the county’s final budget for fiscal year 2013-14, which has received contingent approval from the state Department of Finance and Administration.

Smith said the total countywide budget is just over $18.4 million. Total salary and benefits comprise about $5.1 with 131 full-time employees. The general fund budget is just over $5.7 million with an $806,542 deficit.

“There is no good news in our budget this year,” Walsh said. “I think we’ll have good news next fiscal year; we’re looking at a lot of operational changes.”

Smith said the final budget includes raises for road department staff. She recommended not giving the raises because the road department has had raises each year since she’s been finance director, and the raises will be covered this fiscal year by one-time money from RAC and FEMA.

District I Commissioner Pauline Jaramillo said she understands, but feels road department staff deserve raises.

The County Commission approved the FY 2013-14 budget, including the raises for road department staff.

In other financial business, the commission:

  • Acknowledged the finance director’s report and journal entries.
  • Approved vendor checks totaling $458,344.77 dated July 8, 11, 12 and 18. Walsh pointed out many of those checks were for tax distributions.
  • Approved payroll for July 10 totaling $177,699.99.