Lee tells commission to reduce expenditures

By Tony Parra

Portales city finance committee members were seeing red in this year’s first 2004-05 budget hearing.
Red ink, that is.
Portales City Manager Debi Lee said changes need to be made to the city’s budget to offset the $1.2 million-dollar budget deficit.
“Financially in the big picture, we’re going to have to reduce our expenditures,” Lee said to the committee. “You can’t continue to operate the way you have been. You have a higher expense rate than budgeted.”
Lee made some suggestions about areas the finance committee could cut. She pointed out one specific area that could be cut: the personnel department.
“Normally the personnel department consists of 50 to 55 percent of the city’s total budget,” Lee said. “It’s in the high 70s for Portales. I strongly recommend to get this more in balance. Personnel costs are too heavy.”
Lee said it was 77.4 percent of the city budget in 2002-03, 78.51 percent of the city budget in 2003-04 and is estimated at 79 percent of the 2004-05 budget.
“We have more personnel than money for them,” Lee said. “We need to maybe hire temporary workers for construction programs in the summer and only keep the fulltime, basic workers to work throughout the year.”
Lee said Portales Police Department Chief Jeff Gill and Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator Jesse Luera have already made some personnel moves to reduce the costs in their departments.
Kim Huffman, chairman of the Roosevelt Community Development Corporation, gave annual reports on the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce and the Community Development Corporation.
In his presentation, Huffman expressed the importance of educational opportunities for current businesses through the CDC. Huffman said they have a certified staff that can train people, so when employers go to the business center, which will be located on the square, the CDC can provide trained people.
Huffman showed in a pamphlet that the population projection for Roosevelt County shows a 15.9 percent growth rate, while Curry County shows a 4.6 percent growth rate from 2005 to 2020.
Educational attainment charts displayed a higher number of people with less than a ninth-grade education than the average for New Mexico. It also showed a higher number of people with only 9-12 grade education compared to the state average.
“That’s where the CDC can pay off, because of our educational services,” Huffman said about the training. “We already have the training expertise.”
Huffman is asking for renewal of the $15,000 contract with the chamber of commerce and $45,000 for contracted services offered by the CDC.
Antonia Encinias, community services center fiscal officer, also presented her case in an effort to receive $20,000 from the city for the center. Encinias said 1/3 of the budgeted money received from the state for adult care was cut.
“I think the money (for CDC, chamber and community services requested) should be in the budget,” Rick Hauptmann, finance committee member, said. The money wasn’t in the budget, initially.
The finance committee members will have more budget meetings before they come up with a preliminary draft.