Clovis News

Budget planning pays off for Clovis

Clovis City Council members got their first look Monday at the city's $186 million budget for the year beginning July 1.

What they found was that Clovis is a rarity – there is more positive news than bad news in the coming year's financial plan.

City officials began planning for difficult times in 2008. And it's paying off: The city budget is balanced and no layoffs are planned.

Over the past three years, budget cuts forced the city to lay off part-time workers and some full-time employees.

For the new year, sales-tax revenues are improving and property taxes are projected to rise, too, but at a much slower rate. Those two funds comprise 83% of the city's $53.9 million in discretionary revenue, which pays for public safety, some parks, recreation, senior services and some road work.

Sales-tax revenues are expected to rise because the city will have a full year of the new Kohl's department store and auto sales are showing signs of improving, City Manager Robert Woolley said.

"We are anxious to see how car sales are going," he said. "It seems like I am seeing more new dealer plates."

City employees are not being asked to take wage concessions. For three years, employees have given wage concessions as high as 5.74% of salary and benefits. The city is not proposing any across-the-board raises.

But residents will pay 4% higher rates for trash, 15% more for water and 14% more for sewer services.

The water- and sewer-rate hikes are needed because the city built new water- and sewage-treatment plants with bonds but the number of new residents has not met projections.

When the revenues didn't meet expectations to meet the city's bond requirements, rate hikes became necessary and are being paid by existing city residents.

The council approved budget hearings for its three Monday meetings in June. The budget is expected to be approved June 20.