The City of Rio Rancho’s fiscal year 2022-23 budget will include funding for renovations at Fire Station 6 in Mariposa. (Gregory Hasman/Observer)
The project would allow Rio Rancho to start work on 68 miles of residential streets that are aging but are not suitable for the Neighborhood Streets Improvement Program
The City of Rio Rancho’s fiscal year 2022-23 budget will include funding for a pilot program to address residential roads, city employee raises and improvements to Fire Station 6 in Mariposa.
The new budget the Governing Body adopted Thursday evening projects revenues to be about $84.7 million, 19 percent, or $13.8 million higher than the one the city adopted a year ago, $71 million.
The revenues would also be about $11.2 million, or 15 percent, above projected expenditures, $73.5 million.
Of that $11.2 million, the city proposed to use $4.1 million for debt service and $5.5 million on a pilot program to rehab/mill and inlay city streets.
The project would allow Rio Rancho to start work on 68 miles of residential streets that are aging but are not suitable for the Neighborhood Streets Improvement Program (NSIP). The NSIP focuses on crack patching and sealing.
Engineers will assess the worst roads then come up with suggestions on what the city should do.
Making cost-of-living adjustments
The city’s $73.5 million in projected expenditures would be 10 percent more than a year ago, $66.8 million. However, some of the expenses would go toward employee pay raises.
The city recommended employees receive two, 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases, which would occur in July and January 2023. This would cost the city about $1.23 million. Of which, $1.12 million would come from the general fund.
There are 737 full-time city employees. Of that, about 78.3 percent, or 577, are eligible to receive the increases.
Elected officials, the two alternate judges, seasonal employees, vacant positions, and court employees are not eligible, according to the city.
However, the adopted budget would include giving all 10 municipal employees two, 2 percent COLA increases.
In his April budget message, Mayor Gregg Hull suggested that the city wait until December to see whether the city’s revenues met projections before allocating the second increase.
The COLA increases would help put a dent into a proposed 7.5 percent increase in healthcare costs employees would be paying.
This would amount to a $22.58 a month hike for an employee with a family plan, City Manager Matt Geisel said in his April budget message, adding that the increase is necessary due to rising medical costs.
Keeping the public’s faith
A couple of Rio Rancho residents said they were behind the new budget.
The city needs to keep the public’s faith by maintaining balanced budgets while identifying needs that residents have prioritized in citizen surveys, such as roads, public safety, economic development and quality of life, Cheryl Everett said at Thursday’s Governing Body meeting.
“I support the adoption of our 2023 budget,” she said. “In general, the city has operated on an austerity budget and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.”
Mariposa resident Nate Patterson said he also agreed with the budget, especially the city’s investment in Fire Station 6, which closed in 2014.
The 2022-23 budget includes the allocation of about $1.12 million that will go toward renovations and improvements that will consist of addressing the station’s ceilings, walls, flooring and bathrooms; acquiring appliances and furniture; and landscaping. It will also help pay for a new fire engine and other equipment.
There is no timeline as to when work would begin.
After fixing up and equipping the fire station, the next step will be to identify funding to hire and train new fire and rescue personnel, about 10 positions, according to the city.
Patterson said while he understood why the city closed the station several years ago, to relocate personnel from Station 6 to stations in the southern part of the city due to high call volumes, he is thankful it is looking to invest in it again.
City Councilor Paul Wymer thanked Everett and Patterson for their comments.
It’s refreshing to hear from people who actually took an interest in the budget and came to the city to ask for its adoption, he said.
On July 28, the Governing Body will consider another vote on the fiscal year 2022-23 budget. This will include all budget accounts’ ending balances for 2021-22.
“The final budget will provide another opportunity for the Governing Body to adjust the FY 2023 budget based on the latest economic forecast and actual data,” a city meeting packet states.
Once that final budget is approved, it will be submitted to the state.