Pay raises, new positions and $270,835 worth of capital outlays are included in the City of Belen’s 2002-03 budget, despite a conservative prediction of gross receipt tax increases within the city.

“The budget reflects a 2.5 percent increase in gross receipt taxes,” said City Manager Sally Garley. “The past two years, we have predicted a 4.5 percent increase, but this year we are concerned about the impact of the new Wal-Mart in Los Lunas upon the Belen Wal-Mart.” Gross receipts sales taxes make up a large portion of the city’s operational budget.

The city council approved the $12,611,903 budget at a special meeting on Wednesday.

While the total budget is less than the 2001-02 budget’s $19,099,740, the general fund portion has increased by $270,000.

“This current budget’s general fund is $5,246,988,” said Garley of the portion of the budget that comes from gross receipts taxes. Next year, the city administrator is predicting it will be $5,510,482.

“We asked our department heads to build their budgets on this year’s expenses. And they did,” said Garley. “The only increase will be in their employee salaries.”

In personnel terms, the budget reflects a 15-cent per hour pay increase for the city’s employees. Also, 30 employees’ pay rates were adjusted to be comparable to others doing similar tasks.

It also includes three new full-time positions: two in the police department and one in the fire department.

“The current part-time position in the fire department is being expanded to a full-time position,” Garley said.

Another change will be removing safety coordinator responsibilities from Richard Baldonado, who will continue to be the community service coordinator, and creating a part-time risk management position in the human resource department.

The cause of the 2002-03 budget being $6,487,837 less than the current budget is the completion of various infrastructure projects.

“We have completed the Baca and South Main projects and the Perizzite and Chavez streets projects, which were included in last year’s budget,” Garley said of projects which were paid for by various federal and state funds.

Infrastructure projects included in the 2002-2003 budget will be:

  • The Garcia Road project, for sewer and water lines, road, curbs and gutters.
  • An Al Seery Road project, for sewer and water lines, road, curbs and gutters.
  • Sewer line to the community center at the multi-purpose park.

Capital outlay expenditures in the 2002-03 budget will include:

  • Three new police cars, a mini-pumper brush truck for the fire department, a mower for the parks department and a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.
  • Purchase of land adjacent to Jose Gallegos Park at Aragon and Gabaldon roads for future development of parking lots, lighting and playground equipment.

“People don’t utilize the park as much as possible, but I think, with parking and lighting, they will use it more,” Garley said.

  • Phase two, including 400 electronic water meters, and possibly phase three, an additional 400 electronic water meters, to continue the public works department’s renovation of the water monitoring system.
  • A fire department siren which the city officials plan to sound at 10 p.m. each night.
  • A forced main to connect the sewer lines along River Road and Chavez Street and a lift pump at the wastewater treatment plant. “This forced main will run under the railroad yard and is needed before we can connect the recently annexed properties along River Road into our sewer system,” said Garley of the project she expects to be completed in late September or October.
  • New carpet at the Belen Public Library.
  • A computer for each of four departments human resources, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, wastewater and administrative. Computer upgrades for public safety and law enforcement.
  • Mobile radios for the public works department, along with a spreader and a cutting torch.
  • A loader attachment for the parks and recreation department, as well as $35,000 for park improvements.
  • Office equipment for the water department.
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Jane Moorman