Planned power plant closure looms on horizon

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AZTEC — The economic downturn and the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station loomed over budget discussions for city officials throughout San Juan County this week.

“Nobody was able to project how long this bust was going to last,” Aztec City Commissioner Sherri Sipe said during a budget workshop prior to the City Commission meeting.

Aztec, Farmington, Kirtland and San Juan County officials approved preliminary budgets for fiscal year 2019 during their Tuesday meetings.

Aztec looks at ways to cut spending

Aztec has nearly depleted its cash reserves to help pay its operating costs over the past few years.

The preliminary budget presented last week called for about $26.5 million in expenditures. The one approved Tuesday calls for about $26.3 million.

The reductions in spending came through delays in filling several vacant city positions. Those include temporary park employees for the summer and several positions in public works. Aztec has also chosen not to hire a part-time employee for the HUB, also known as the business incubator.

Aztec will continue to look at places it can reduce spending while working on its final budget. The budget approved Tuesday projects the city will end fiscal year 2019 with $183,000 in available cash.

A copy of the budget can be viewed online at aztecnm.gov under the "Transparency" tab. The meeting can also be watched on the city's YouTube channel.

Farmington will begin strategic planning in August

The Farmington City Council approved a budget with projected expenditures of $275 million for fiscal year 2019. The city anticipates about $228.7 million in revenue. The city projects it will end fiscal year 2019 with $72 million. It will likely begin the fiscal year with $118.9 million.

A video of the meeting and a copy of the budget presentation can be found online at fmtn.org.

Farmington officials will meet in August to prepare a strategic plan for the future.

“The economy is doing pretty well right now,” City Manager Rob Mayes said. “(Gross receipts tax revenue) is up 8 percent from a year ago.”

Mayes cautioned that there will be challenges in the future because of the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station.

“We need to be prepared as a community and have a sustainable plan in place before those days come,” he said. “So we’re asking ourselves what are the things we need to be doing now while there’s some relative short-term recovery in the economy to be prepared to be sustainable with our best days ahead of us in the future, recognizing that we cannot rely solely on oil and gas the way we have in the past.”

County will cut expenditures in fiscal year 2019

The San Juan County Commission approved spending $121.6 million in fiscal year 2019. It is anticipating revenues of $99.8 million and projects about an 8 percent increase in revenue from the gross receipts tax.

The preliminary budget features about 4 percent less in expenditures than the fiscal year 2018 preliminary budget.

Of those expenditures, the county projects spending $30.4 million from the general fund. Deputy finance officer Kim Martin said the county is required to have about $7.6 million in cash reserves in the general fund and will meet that. It will also have about $106,000 in unrestricted cash at the end of fiscal year 2019.

Kirtland's major project will be town park

Kirtland estimates it will finish fiscal year 2018 with $389,500 on hand, according to its fiscal year 2019 budget approved Tuesday. That includes about $291,500 in unrestricted cash and $98,000 in the required cash reserve.

Kirtland anticipates drawing more than $1 million in revenue in the upcoming fiscal year. It projects ending fiscal year 2019 with approximately $257,000 on hand.

The town's biggest expense will be a new park. Kirtland will install restrooms and grass. The budget calls for spending about $288,000 in infrastructure for parks and recreation.

Mayor Mark Duncan said the town will wait to plant grass until fall because of the drought conditions.

The park is being built in phases, and the playground has already been installed.

“That gets used a ton,” Duncan said about the playground.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

 

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