City Councilor Dan Lewis, Chair of the Council Committee of the Whole, provides details about the revised budget proposal for the City's operating budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins July 1, 2014.
May 19, 2014
City Councilor Dan Lewis, chair of the City Council Committee of the Whole, today provided details of the changes made to his proposed FY/15 operating budget which was passed unanimously by the Council Committee of the Whole at its meeting last Thursday. As the sponsor of the revised budget, Chairman Lewis’ emphasized significant increases in funding to certain social programs, cultural amenities, and public safety. The Chairman’s revised proposal will be discussed this evening by the full City Council.
“There were a number of important changes made to the proposed FY/15 budget during the Committee of the Whole meeting, and I believe that each one has made the proposal better. First, the Council added $169,000 in funding to ensure that the Alamosa Library will stay open after the Central & Unser Library opens later this year; second, we added $100,000 to the Animal Welfare budget to be used for additional spay and neuter supplies ($50,000) and for the trap and release program ($50,000); and we added $20,000 in funding for 516 Arts and $30,000 for the FUSION Theater.”
“Importantly, my revised proposal now includes a 5.0% raise for police officers, which will help ensure that the City retains our most experienced officers.” said Chairman Lewis “Finally, my revised proposal reduces vacant but funded officer positions by 16, in order to free up funding to hire civilians to do administrative work. This will free up more sworn officers to be out on the street and available to answer calls for service.”
"Fair and Balanced"
“This revised budget proposal builds on the strong budget proposal provided to the Council by Mayor Berry and adds a number of critical City Council priorities. The Substitute significantly increases funding for social services and sets aside an additional $1 million so that the City can immediately begin implementation of improvements recommended by the Department of Justice.” said Councilor Lewis “It also provides for increased raises for City employees so that the City can begin to restore the cuts that employees have incurred during these recent lean years.”
“The Committee Substitute budget is fair and balanced, and addresses the critical issues facing the City today.”
Councilor Lewis’ revised proposal includes the following:
Social Service, Homeless and Mental Health Programs
The proposed Committee Sub provides increased funding for social service and mental health programs, including:
- A total of $864,000 in funding to restore the 5% across the board cut in Social Service programs in 2011 and to provide an additional 2% increase in funding as well;
- $1,000,000 in recurring funding for case management and other services to the homeless and people living with mental illness;
- $230,000 increase in recurring funding for rental vouchers for homeless families. The funding will allow the City to support approximately 20 families as well as provide case management services.
- $80,000 in recurring funding to support the Title I program, which assists children who are homeless with basic services to help them remain in school. The program is administered by APS.
- $700,000 for a Summer Pilot Project to keep the Westside Shelter open during the summer months and to fund necessary renovations to the facility.
- The proposed Committee Substitute reserves ($1,000,000) for implementation of DOJ recommendations. This is in addition to the $1,000,000 the Mayor included in the proposed budget for training recommended by the DOJ. Although the recommendations have not yet been finalized, this additional $1,000,000 will serve as a savings account in order to begin implementation as soon as those recommendations are known.
- The proposed Committee Sub provides a 5.0% increase in pay for police officers. The original proposed budget provided a 4.0% pay increase for police officers. These funds are reserved and are subject to the collective bargaining process.
- The proposed Committee Sub provides a 3.0% pay increase for non-public safety employees. The original proposed budget provided a 1.0% increase for these employees. These funds are reserved and are subject to the collective bargaining process.
Economic Development Programs
- The proposed Committee Sub includes $425,000 in additional funding for economic development to assist with the expansion and retention of existing businesses, for small business incubator support, for a community data analysis project and for an economic development/business study for the West Central corridor.
- The proposed Committee Sub includes funding for a nurse at the Main Library to provide referral and triage services for the homeless and funding to keep both the Westgate and Alamosa Libraries open after the opening of the Central & Unser Library.
- The revised proposal includes $100,000 for animal welfare, including $50,000 for the spay and neuter program and $50,000 for the trap and release program.
- The proposed Committee Substitute provides $300,000 in funding for Zuni storm drain improvements, which completes the funding for the Zuni Safety Improvement Project.
- The bill also retains all of the $2.6 million for “Critical Capital Infrastructure,” and provides that, if that infrastructure is not required for any particular manufacturing economic development project, the funds will be bonded against and the proceeds used to provide funding for other capital projects.
- The bonding should generate approximately $30,000,000 for capital projects, with each Council District allocated $3 million for District priority projects. The remaining $3,000,000 would be allocated for the purchase of police vehicles or to begin the conversion of the City’s 800 MHz system.
Additional program funding
- Desert Forge- Buena Tierra Farm $25,000
- ProView Networks $25,000
- Globalquerque $20,000
- Tricklock Theatre $25,000
- Keshet Dance Company $45,000
- MLK Jr. Commission Youth Conference $25,000
- YDI- Gang Intervention $25,000
- Think Big $15,000
- Heroin Awareness initiative $75,000
- 516 Arts $20,000
- FUSION Theater $30,000
Revisions and Reductions
The Committee Substitute also makes the following revisions and reductions to the proposed budget in order to offset the changes described above:
The budget submitted to the Council assumed that gross receipts taxes would increase by 2.1% for the remainder of FY/14; however, growth in gross receipts has been stronger than projected (trending up 3.1% this year). The proposed Committee Substitute therefore increases the projection for overall growth in the GRT from 2.2% to 2.5%. The Proposed budget assumed that GRT was to grow by 2.2%, but at this point GRT is growing at an annual rate of 3.1%. The projection increase to 2.5% is well below the current 3.1%.
The proposed Committee Substitute reduces funding for the following:
- Downtown Initiative. The Committee Substitute removes $300,000 in funding for the proposed Downtown Initiative. The Downtown Initiative was a newly proposed project and the Council would like for the Department to complete its objective before funding the proposed program.
- Vacant Police Positions. The Committee Substitute reduces the number of funded, but vacant, sworn police officer positions from 1051 to 1000. The Proposed budget funds 1051 sworn officers at APD, but the current number of sworn officers is approximately 909. The proposed floor substitute would decrease the number of funded but vacant positions by 51. This saves $2.8 million and will help insure that APD can hire civilian personnel to do administrative functions so that sworn officers are freed up to answer calls for service.”
- Capital Acquisitions. The Committee Substitute deletes one-time funding of $1.3 million for the upgrade of the 800MHz public safety radio system, and reduces the capital allocation for Police Vehicles by $2 million. These items may be funded through other means or may be included in the upcoming 2015 G.O. Bond Program.
The City Council will vote on the revised proposal at the City Council meeting May 19, 2014.