By Lynn Janes

The town of Hurley held a budget workshop April 30, 2024. Attendance to the meeting included Mayor Ed Stevens, councilors Nanette Day, Keana Huerta, and James Langley. Reynaldo Maynes didn't attend.

Lori Ortiz, clerk/treasurer, started addressing everything on the budget and explaining it to the council. She had given them the basic budget but had added professional services that would be needed and new financial software. They have had the current software cause problems on the audit resulting in findings. The new software that will eliminate that problem will cost $30,000. They have been asked to use a software that has been built for governments and allows the proper notations and adjustments needed to avoid findings.

Ortiz had contacted each department and asked them for a list of needs. They had come back with minimal requests, and it all had fit into the budget. The police chief had asked for two desks and two file cabinets, but they already had that in the funds to cover the cost. He had also asked that the vehicle repair amount of $2,500 be increased to $6,000. That will also come out of the law enforcement protection fund. Animal control had asked for heating and cooling for the animal shelter and that will cost approximately $25,000. They will need to look into grants to fund that need. Ortiz said maybe the Freeport McMoRan initiative might be a source. Jason Cox, animal control officer, said he felt he could obtain a better bid for the heating and cooling.

They will be having another work session to go over the budget next month. The interim budget will be turned in June first and the final budget in July. They have plenty of time to make changes.

Langley wanted the budget broken down more and referred to code enforcement and animal control being put together. Ortiz asked him how he would like it broken down. It had been put together because it used to be one job position.

Currently they have one town vehicle that they share between city hall employees and code enforcement. They had asked for another vehicle with capital outlay but had not received the funds. The council also did not approve using town funds to purchase the vehicle. They went over the uses of that vehicle. Ortiz will continue to look for funding for an additional vehicle.

A rumor had been heard that the Dollar Store would be selling alcohol. Ortiz said they had not contacted her about any permits or inquire about requirements. She did hear they might be selling fresh produce.

Day asked about the judicial changes. Ortiz said they would be having quite a few changes. The town will be losing much of the funds that in the past had come to the town. When they had been in a training in Santa Fe, they asked how they could make up those funds lost. The only way to make it up would be to increase the fees. A lawyer in attendance to the training had recommended not doing that. The court has never brought in enough to even pay the clerk and the town has had to make up the difference.

The council had a lot of questions about the budget that they went over.

Day said the library needed to be open 15 hours every week to be eligible for any funding and had to maintain those hours for nine months. It will be a struggle to make that happen. They have had people contact them wanting to use the facility for meetings. The problem has been they can't be accommodated at the times needed. Langley said they needed to offer more services. Day went over some of the grants that could be available. Stevens said the future will be in technology and not in books. Day has been looking at software to get them started. Stevens worried about being able to find a part-time librarian. Ortiz asked if they would have any revenue from the library and Day said not at this time. Day went over some of the programs they wanted to do. They had also received quite a few book donations.

Ortiz had not included the new officer salary the town would have to cover. It will be covered in part by the law enforcement fund, but the town will have to cover 70 percent of that cost.

The swimming pool has had an increase in expenses, and they will have to use more general funds to accommodate that. The increases have been utilities and supplies. Currently they have $40,000 on the budget but will have to add another $15,000. The town has received capital outlay funds and Ortiz said she would see exactly what they could use that for. Huerta asked about putting the solar in. They had only received $50,000 and Ortiz said the solar would be around $200,000. She had contacted an engineer and will know the exact cost next month.

Stevens spoke about cameras for the main streets in town to help with crime. They had some discussion about which streets they would include and if it would help.

They talked about putting a fence up at the E Street park. Maintenance had just been working on the A Street park and put in picnic tables and a grill. They also painted the awnings.

Ortiz questioned the council on how they wanted to proceed with the parks and recreation projects. Did they want to do them one at a time or all at once? She had been referring to the American Legion, Big Muddy, E Street Pool, and E Street Park.

Huerta had been going to meet with the engineer about schematics for the projects but had not. The engineers would come up with a plan and then do a design with cost estimates and the next step would be to apply for the funding. Day said they had not come up with a decision and had just come up with a wish list. The engineer had taken that and come up with a schematic and now they wanted to meet with Huerta who had been made in charge of the parks and recreation. They went over all the items they wanted, and it had been sent to the engineers. Ortiz said it seems ideas have changed quite a bit, and another work session would probably be needed. At that time, they can join the meeting through Zoom and questions can be asked. Day said they needed to knock out the little projects they have funding for and then move on to the others.

The council discussed all the projects, and Ortiz explained the funding cycle to all of them. Most would take a year to receive the awards. The first year will be the design and the next would be the construction. Ortiz said the gross receipts revenue they receive will not cover very much and outside grants must be obtained. "We never know how much it will be, and I caution you on expecting more than it will be." Langley wanted to know what miscellaneous revenue included. Ortiz said sometimes they have donations but will check. Next time she will have a detailed list of the line items. Langley wanted to know what the municipal league line item included. Ortiz said it included dues for training everyone on the council and employees.

A question came from an attendee about increased retirement for the employees. Ortiz said they had looked into that and by increasing it they would have to charge the employee more and that had been why they decided not to change.

For the past several months they have been monitoring the increased costs for solid waste and wastewater . They will have to raise the fees to the residents. Solid waste will be raised $2, and wastewater raised $4. She will have all the figures for them at the next meeting.

The next regular meeting will be May 14, 2024, at 5:00 pm
A budget and work session meeting will be announced.

Meeting adjourned.

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