ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city could be looking at one of its biggest budget shortfalls in years.
City councilors got a look at the financial forecast Wednesday night, and KRQE News 13 caught up with the mayor Thursday to ask what it means for the city.
After years of cutting, the city could be $24-million short as the economy here stagnates, but Mayor Richard Berry says it’s not something to worry about. At least not yet.
He says these forecasts are worst case scenario, and this $24-million short-fall is manageable. He says he doesn’t see any tax increases, layoffs or furloughs necessary.
Mayor Berry also says he thinks the city has over budgeted for health care costs, new projects and staffing. He says the budget includes a 1,000 officer police force, which is still about 150 officers short.
A big worry though is losing about $6-million the state has been giving municipalities to offset food tax revenues, a tax state lawmakers did away with about a decade ago.
“Our biggest concern now is if the budget situation in Santa Fe creates a situation where the legislators kind of kick the budget crisis down to the municipalities, well then we’ll have a different scenario,” Mayor Berry said.
A big expense in 2017 is for a new otter and penguin exhibit at the BioPark and staffing there. Also, a bigger emphasis on the forensics lab, and a new rescue unit at Fire Station Four.
This is the city’s biggest deficit in five years. Mayor Berry has until April 1 to submit his proposal for the budget year that starts in July.
The city’s $472-million budget is about where it was when the mayor took over after the recession.