Today I am announcing my FY 2012 budget proposal for city council consideration. The balanced budget reflects a thoughtful and reasoned approach to funding city government, one which recognizes that we are still in tough economic times while still delivering a high level of service to our citizens. My budget keeps government whole because from the beginning we have made tough decisions and you will see that we continue to limit government growth.
The current budget proposal is consistent with my commitment to run a fiscally responsible city government:
- The budget does not increase taxes – we cannot ask our citizens to take on any additional financial burden for providing basic government services
- The budget reduces the size of government operations by over 5 percent by permanently deleting 186 positions, for a savings of 10.4 million dollars
- The budget maintains and builds on healthy reserves
This budget proposal accomplishes these efficiencies while still providing critical government services:
- We will keep libraries, senior citizens and community centers open and operating as usual
- We continue to have a strong police force and give our public safety personnel the resources they need
- We will not lay off or furlough employees
Not only are there no layoffs or pay cuts, but because we have held the line on government growth, I am proposing a 1% pay increase for our city employees who earn less than 100 thousand dollars annually, pending union negotiations. Last year our city employees pitched in and absorbed an average 2.2 percent pay cut. Employees have done their share to help ease our budget situation and as long as we have the means, I will take steps to restore wages for our hard working personnel.
Additionally, because we have held firm in negotiating the best deal as it relates to health care costs, for the majority of our employees, there will be no increase in employee contributions. We have reached an agreement with Presbyterian as a sole provider for health insurance which based on our cost-benefit analysis, will provide excellent health care services at a minimal cost to our personnel. Our partnership with Presbyterian Healthcare will result in a 4.7 million dollar savings to the city.
Overall, the total budget of 462 million dollars represents an increase over fiscal year 11 of 7.2 million dollars, or 1.6%, which is less than the rate of inflation. The increase includes:
- The addition of 200,000 dollars into our reserves, in order to maintain a healthy rainy day fund and a high bond rating.
- Increased costs for fuels and electricity
- Vehicles and maintenance for police and transit
- One time expenditures for the 2011 municipal election and funding of the leap year
We are increasing a few specific fees to reflect the cost of doing business at the Albuquerque BioPark and Parks and Recreation’s shooting range. The one dollar and fifty cent increase for entry to the BioPark covers improved attractions at the zoo including the expansion of the crocodile exhibit and a new garden at the Botanic Gardens. Users of the shooting range will incur a two dollar increase to shoot at the range. Additionally, permit fees of $200 for oversized/overweight vehicles, affecting a small segment of commercial drivers, will be imposed.
We will recognize a net savings of 606 thousand dollars as a result of returning the management of Fire Station 29 to the county. Additionally, my budget deletes 275 thousand dollars for funding for an APS high school retention program for which we have been unable to measure results. It redirects 300 thousand dollars for an initiative called “Running Start for Careers” which is designed to give students real-life vocational training while earning class credits.
It is important to note that this budget reflects the projections we have at this point in time. I recognize that the numbers could change for the better or worse in the next couple of months before the council takes action.
Since I took office sixteen months ago, I have cut 130 million dollars from the budget. Despite these cuts, we’ve improved our operations and reduced crime in the city of Albuquerque. We’ve opened a business resource center to help local businesses expand and thrive, we’ve lowered our property crime rate by 18%, we’ve kept the busses running and the libraries and community centers open. We have proven that we can limit the size of government without hurting critical services.
I remain committed to holding the line on government growth in both lean and more prosperous budget cycles. It is my belief that when we shrink government, good things happen. This year’s budget is balanced due to the difficult decisions we made last year and we will continue to be responsible stewards of the public checkbook.