FARMINGTON — Four Corners residents soon could be paying higher fees for solid waste disposal, events at McGee Park and use of the Riverview Golf Course, as San Juan County officials look for ways to slim the budget.

The county is beginning to set its budget for the 2013/2014 fiscal year starting July 1, said Linda Thompson, the county's chief financial officer. The county's expense budget next year will be significantly less than this year's.

The county's three largest subsidies are for solid waste disposal, McGee Park events and Riverview Golf Course. Those programs are expected to cost a combined $2 million during the current fiscal year, according to county documents.

The county's expense budget is $140 million this year. Next year, the expense budget will be less than $115 million, Thompson said. That decrease is due partly to declining tax revenue from local industry and because the county has fewer planned projects that receive state or federal money.

The county is hopeful budget cuts won't cause drastic changes in taxes or services. But it is likely the county will create and increase user fees or find other revenue sources so the subsidized programs can come closer to breaking even, Thompson said.

She said the three subsidized programs improve the area's quality of life.

"We don't feel at this point that we would have to cut those services," she said. "We may look at them as a way to generate revenue."

Solid-waste disposal is the county's most expensive subsidy, with expenses rising to about $1.1 million more than the $2.4 million available from gross receipts taxes and user fees dedicated to the program. The county will spend nearly $3.5 million this year operating the 13 convenience stations throughout the county and the county cleanup program.

Convenience stations are places where people can throw away trash for minimal fees and the county takes the trash to the landfill.
New Mexico High School Rodeo Association’s first spring rodeo was held at McGee Park on March 23.
New Mexico High School Rodeo Association's first spring rodeo was held at McGee Park on March 23. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
The cleanup program relies primarily on inmate labor to remove trash from public and private land.

The county started charging convenience station fees for the first time last year. It is expected to collect about $450,000 from residents who take trash to the stations, according to county documents.

Thompson said in the future, the county will likely start charging residents who take their trash directly to the landfill.

McGee Park is expected to cost $650,000 this year. The park is a 186-acre fairground and convention center that is the site of the San Juan County Fair, rodeos, concerts, conferences and other events.

The park has $878,000 in expenses this year, about two-thirds of which is employee wages and benefits, according to county documents.

The park is expected to generate $227,000 in revenue this year.

Thompson said the county may make changes to the user fees at McGee Park.

Money-saving changes at McGee Park hurt the hundreds of local youth and families who use the facility on a regular basis, said Daniel Wood, the president of San Juan County Jr./Sr. Rodeo Association. He said that in recent years park maintenance and public-use hours have decreased.

"It's very important. (McGee Park) was built to give back to the youth," he said.

Wood said there are dozens of students who use McGee Park to practice rodeo. Boy Scouts and 4-H Youth and Development programs also need the facility.
Clint Davis tees off at the eleventh hole at Riverview Golf Course on March 29.
Clint Davis tees off at the eleventh hole at Riverview Golf Course on March 29. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)


Riverview Golf Course's operating cost for the current fiscal year is $1 million, and the course will collect $675,000 in green fees.

Riverview in Kirtland is cheaper, easier and less crowded that Pi–on Hills, said John Bloom, a school administrator from Sweetwater, Ariz., who has played the course three times in the last week.

"It's convenient, a good price, and Monday through Wednesday there's hardly anybody here," he said.

Tom Watkins, the owner of Golf USA in Farmington, said Riverview is an important part of the area's golf opportunities because it is affordable and a great place to practice.

"When the economy is good and rounds played are up, I think we still need another golf course in San Juan County," he said.

Ryan Boetel can be reached at rboetel@daily-times.com; 505-564-4644. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel.