A predicted decrease in gross receipts taxes will cause the regional dispatch center to dip into its reserve funds for the second year in a row.
Valencia Regional Emergency Communication Center Director Shirley Valdez said last year GRT revenues fell from $141,000 to about $120,000 per month.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the VRECC budget is projecting $1,440,000 in gross receipts tax revenue, 15 percent less than last year’s $1,695,397.
Valdez said they were able to shore up the current year’s budget with money from reserves and have budgeted $175,000 again from reserves for the coming year.
Total revenues for the center are projected to be down 17.5 percent from $2.5 million to $2.1 million. Expenditures also reflect a reduction of 10.9 percent.
Operational costs for VRECC are divided among the local agencies that are part of a joint powers agreement — Valencia County, Belen, Los Lunas, Bosque Farms and Rio Communities — based on a percentage of calls.
Third-party customers, such as AMR ambulance service and the town of Peralta, are billed on a per call for service basis at a rate of $8.46 per call, an amount that’s not changed since at least 2015.
Based on 2018 calls for service, Los Lunas will pay $184,1889, Valencia County $195,971, Bosque Farms $38,600, Belen $117,426 and Rio Communities $24,854.
Those payments will cover the $561,039 in operating expenses of VRECC after other revenues have been accounted for.
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the agencies paid $159,025, $167,706, $33,612, $120,770 and $23,619, respectively.
AMR’s payment is projected to increase from $95,530 to $97,747, and Peralta’s will go down from $39,644 to $32,046. Belen was the only other agency to see a decrease.
“Calls for service increased in some areas and decreased in others,” Valdez said. “The budget is built on number of calls for service, GRT and any other revenues.
Los Lunas Administrator Greg Martin, who is a member of the VRECC board, said the agency has a healthy reserve of about $600,000.
“I think it is worth saying this can’t happen every year,” Martin said. “We shouldn’t have to use reserves for ongoing expenses on an ongoing basis. GRT — it’s an ‘if.’”
Included in the upcoming budget for 2019-20 is $1.1 million for a new computer-aided dispatch system from the Legislature.
The VRECC board unanimously approved the budget last month.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.