Aztec leaders worry about personnel costs as minimum wage increases
AZTEC — While the City of Aztec may not struggle to pay its bills this year, Finance Director Kathy Lamb said it could face challenges in the future.
The Aztec City Commission discussed its preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year during a May 20 work session.
The proposed approximately $53.5 million preliminary budget includes capital outlay funds that the city has received for the East Aztec Arterial Route and North Main Avenue extension projects.
“We've been keeping these budgets very lean and how much longer can we do that realistically?" Lamb said.
The City Commission is scheduled to continue discussions and possibly approve the Fiscal Year 2020 budget during its May 28 meeting. The upcoming meeting will be streamed live on the city's YouTube page.
Aztec’s gross receipts tax revenue has remained relatively stagnant while expenses are increasing.
The city has put off replacing vehicles and has focused on meeting operating costs over the past few years, but that will not be sustainable going forward. Another complication the city faces is increasing personnel costs.
Minimum wage will begin increasing in January. Lamb said the city currently pays more than minimum wage and will not be forced to raise pay for two years. However, Aztec is considering raising pay for all employees by 75 cents an hour on an annual basis for three years. This will allow the city to stay ahead of minimum wage increases and prevent the city from having to make difficult choices in order to meet minimum wage requirements.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy, what’s going to happen with revenues,” Lamb said.
In addition, Lamb said the state’s public employee retirement fund isn’t solvent and that could mean the city will have to pay more in the future.
Commissioner Sherri Sipe asked Lamb how she would suggest coming up with $90,000 to pay increasing personnel costs.
Lamb said the city will have to be creative.
“It’s going to take all the departments, everyone working together,” she said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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