Mayor Berry Signs Balanced Budget Focused on Enhanced Economic Opportunities, Improved Public Safety And Services for Mental Health Programs
Albuquerque- Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry signed the City’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 as submitted to him by the City Council. It reflects the vast majority of the priority projects and programs included in his initial proposed budget submitted in April of this year. The final version of the budget bill authorizes a total budget of $493,403,000 as opposed to the mayor’s original recommendation of $496,000,000. Major changes include increased funding for social service contracts as well as economic initiatives, funding for the homeless and mental health services and reserving additional funding for wage increases for city employees.
The mayor was pleased that the council’s revisions came within four-tenths of one percent of his proposed budget, keeping intact, or in many cases, increasing funding for his priority initiatives such as economic development, public safety and mental health programs. The final general fund budget for FY15 is dedicated substantially to public safety, community outcomes and job creation initiatives, representative of the mayor’s top priorities for his administration.
“I extend my appreciation to the city council for their efforts to focus on the issues that we have outlined as critically important to our community at this time. The budget reflects our shared priorities for enhancing public safety, positive community outcomes and focusing on diversifying our local economy through entrepreneurship, job creation and smart investments,” said Mayor Berry.
The signed FY/15 Budget features:
- No tax increases, no pay cuts and sufficient funding for a 3% increase for non-union employees and most union employees, and up to a 5% increase for police union employees dependent upon negotiations (it also includes funding already approved for firefighter pay increases).
- A total commitment of close to $18 million for social services programs including substantial funding for homelessness projects, drug abuse treatment and prevention and mental health services.
- Funding to allow for the sale of $30 million in bonds for critical capital infrastructure to potentially fund such projects as bus rapid transit, or critical infrastructure needed to support job creation.
- $1.475 million for the Economic Development Department to carry out initiatives to diversify the economy, spur economic activity, entrepreneurism and job creation. Efforts underway include development of the “Innovation District” and collaboration with the University of New Mexico and others on commercialization of technology.
- $1 million for additional police cars at the Police Department.
- $800 thousand in additional general fund reserves, adding to the City’s fiscal soundness.
- Public safety funding includes key positions tied to accountability as well as $1 million specifically for evaluation, training and implementation of policies and reforms relating to police interaction with people living with mental illness with a focus on de-escalation and other crisis intervention strategies. Plus an additional $1 million is held in reserve to fund the anticipated Department of Justice review recommendations.
- Funding for a full time child abuse liaison, which will complement our efforts in establishing a child abuse prevention task force and provide enhanced communications between the police and protective services agencies.
- Despite rapidly growing costs for many other government and private entities, the city budget limits health care increases to 2.1%, the lowest level seen in three years; and
- Finally, an additional $1.87 million for City transit services to cover general cost of service increases, additional security and sun van driver positions, as well as funding for repairs and maintenance.