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AZTEC — While fiscal year 2018 does not start for several months, Aztec officials already are considering priority projects for that time frame.

The City Commission brainstormed several possibilities during a work session Monday. The priorities will be used to set a budget for fiscal year 2018.

Gross receipts tax revenue likely will continue to be a challenge in the upcoming fiscal year. When reached by phone Thursday, City Manager Joshua Ray said the city's gross receipts tax revenue is down 12 percent this year compared to fiscal year 2016.

Because the majority of the city's budget comes from gross receipts tax revenues, that decrease means less money for the city to use for projects.

"I think we're going to have to focus on the items that aren't construction items," Ray said.

Ray said the commission's brainstorming led to a work plan that the city will be able to use during the upcoming fiscal year.

One of the items that many residents likely will notice is the city developing a street-sweeping policy, which was one of the first priorities the commission discussed during the brainstorming session.

Commissioner Katee McClure brought up the street sweeping, which Mayor Sally Burbridge supported. Burbridge cited a group of small business owners organizing the monthly Fourth Friday events as a reason to keep Main Avenue clean. On the fourth Friday of every month, businesses in downtown Aztec remain open late and many of them feature special offerings.

Burbridge said the city can support Fourth Fridays by providing the business owners a clean environment through street sweeping.

While Burbridge and McClure said they have received calls about street sweeping, Commissioner Austin Randall said he hears a lot of complaints about street maintenance and striping.

Another project commissioners mentioned was the city looking into a waste-to-energy project.

"That's an exciting new project for our community moving forward," Burbridge said.

During the meeting, Ray said the project, which would turn trash into electricity, could benefit Aztec financially and environmentally.

"It could reduce our overall purchase of power, and it could reduce our overall footprint of the land," he said.

Other items that were discussed included a study looking at affordable housing, increasing the size of the police force, continued repair and replacement of sewer lines, and maintaining parks.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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