Sandoval County is one step closer to a balanced budget after the five-hour preliminary budget hearing Wednesday.

Wayne Johnson

According to Sandoval County Manager Wayne Johnson, COVID did not affect the county’s revenues. The preliminary budget is not yet balanced, with a deficit of about half a million dollars, he said.
“We are zeroing in on this. So is this preliminary budget is where we need be? No, but that is the reason why we have these processes, and that is the reason why we have these public hearings: So we can get closer to a budget that closely reflects the priorities of the commissioners,” Johnson said.
County Finance Director Cassandra Herrera, like the county manager, works with every department through the budget process.
“There is nothing more important than communicating what their needs are to the governing body so that they can make an educated decision on what our taxpayers’ dollars are being used on, and working together to make sure the process is transparent and preventing any waste, fraud and abuse,” she said.
The budget is categorized by county department. The department’s budget is compiled either separately from or in combination with general fund revenues; special funds revenue, which are grants from federal, state or local agencies; capital funds like bonds; enterprise funds, which are expected to generate enough money to cover their own costs; and debt service, Herrera said.
The structure of the budget tracks money and ensures transparency, Johnson said. This keeps county financials organized and prevents misuse.
“So that is the reason you see so many different line items and so many different funds; it’s so we can be able to track it and be a little more transparent,” he said.
Before the county has a public meeting, department directors meet with the county manager’s office to go through their budget and requests. The county manager makes recommendations and adjustments as needed.
Next, commissioners meet with the county manager individually to go through these decisions and give input.
“Everything in this book is the commission’s budget one way or the other, because they are the ultimate authority on budget and spending matters within the county, no matter what county it is. So, yes, I do believe we are doing the best, but part of this is honing in on the priorities with the commission,” Johnson said.
After commissioners give feedback, a preliminary budget hearing takes place to fine-tune the county’s priorities even more.
“I am a manager and I know some things in county government, and so it is an opportunity for each of the department directors to, oftentimes, try and sell the commission on a different priority than what I have,” he said.
The final budget will be approved before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
To view the budget hearing, visit sandovalcountynm.gov, click on meeting videos and select the April 21 special county commission meeting.

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Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer