County Budget Hearing Underway In Council Chambers

The FY-2016 Budget Hearings got underway at 6 p.m. today in Council Chambers. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

County Manager Harry Burgess introduces an overview of the FY-2016 Proposed Budget this evening in Council Chambers. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Staff Report

The Los Alamos County FY-2016 Budget Hearings kicked off at 6 p.m. this evening in Council Chambers.

County Manager Harry Burgess and Deputy County Manager Steven Lynne are presenting an overview and summary of the proposed budget to Council.

“We did achieve a 1 percent reduction in the overall expenditure in the proposed 2016 over 2015 budget,” Burgess said. “We did attempt to reduce staff by attrition … there is no RIF in the budget, adding that the County has achieved a 5.8 percent reduction in full time employees.

Lynne explained that since the drafting of the preliminary budget guidance, the federal government has passed its budget. This has eliminated one overall uncertainty in the County’s revenue projections. However, several uncertainties still remain including site allocations, potential impacts of environmental management changes and the recent Los Alamos National Security fee reduction.

Based on updated information, Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) revenue is estimated to be below previous projections for FY-2015 and FY-2016 by $3.6 and $2.1 million respectively, he said. This is a result of spending and overall taxability at Los Alamos National Laboratory both being lower than previously projected.

Since GRT is the primary funding source for most general governmental operations and capital projects, some changes must be made in order to move back toward having a balanced budget, Burgess said.

Given this context, he said that Council should expect that the FY-2016 budget would be developed with noticeable changes in all of the following five categories:

  • Fund Balance – Use of fund balance is expected when severe revenue fluctuations occur;
  • Expenditures – Target a general overall 1 percent in General Fund expenditures, understanding that this is not an across the board mandate and it also applies to other funds that are primarily GRT dependent, operating transfers to other funds and transfers to the CIP Fund;
  • Capital Projects – Reduce the planned transfer from the General Fund to the CIP Fund by $3.5 million and delay new FY-2016 planned (unappropriated) capital improvement projects into the FY-2017 budget cycle and reconsider the CIP as an initial part of the FY-2017018 biennial budget cycle. Also, maintain annual placeholder amounts for roads, facilities, parks and IT maintenance projects at an adequate level;
  • Revenues – Because of the magnitude of the projected GRT revenue reduction, other revenue levels should be increased by means such as restoring property tax revenues; and
  • Staff – Limit salary increases in the FY-2016 proposed budget to 1 percent and staff levels should be reduced by attrition.

The second budget hearing is set for 6 p.m., Tuesday in Council Chambers.

Deputy County Manager Steven Lynne presents a General Fund Budget Summary this evening to Council. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

From left, County Election Manager Gloria Maestas, County Attorney Rebecca Ehler and County Manager Harry Burgess. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

County Manager Harry Burgess continues presenting the budget summary to Council as County department officials, staff and members of the public are seated in Council Chambers. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

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