Council approves preliminary budget

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

At a regular meeting of the Portales City Council Tuesday night, a preliminary budget for fiscal year 2009-10 was approved unanimously. The final budget, which will be preceded by a public meeting, won’t need to be passed until July.

The projected revenue for the city is expected to be just over $6 million. Apart from salaries and other regular expenses, Portales is required to put a fraction of that amount — in this case, around $629,000 — in reserve. Minus the total expenditures and the required reserve, the city is anticipating a surplus of $82,000 for the next fiscal year.

“A lot of effort has been put into this by our department heads,” said City Councilman Mike Miller, who heads the city’s Finance Committee. “There’s been a hiring freeze imposed except for special services like police and fire.”

In other Council action:

• In an executive session closed meeting after regular business, the council met to discuss how to fill the position of city manager on an interim basis when current manager Debi Lee leaves. Lee has accepted the same position in Ruidoso. No action was taken during the meeting.

• Two citizens complained about new fees that will imposed on recreation center users during the summer. The rates per child will be $150 for a session in June and also $150 per child for another session in July. “There’s a lot of parents with multiple children who can’t afford it,” Wendy Sharpe said. “People can’t afford it and these kids are going to be running the street.”

• Councillors voted unanimously to continue an ongoing agreement with Portales Municipal Schools to share athletic facilities. At school-owned Wheeler Park, the tennis courts and the high school baseball field, the city agreed to continue paying many of the utility costs for another year.

• Also by unanimous vote, the council gave permission for mayor Orlando Ortega to sign a resolution