SANTA FE – Santa Fe County commissioners will have to vote on a proposed 8% budget reduction within two weeks as the county prepares for less financial wiggle room in the next fiscal year.
The proposed budget, totaling a little more than $333 million, includes 75 vacant positions that will remain unfilled due to a hiring freeze.
Frozen positions include the deputy county manager, as well as several firefighters, paramedics and county detention officers. The freezes are expected to save $2.7 million and will last anywhere from two to six months after the budget is approved.
The budget includes no pay raises – even for cost-of-living increases – and the amount budgeted for overtime pay would decrease by $567,000.
Santa Fe County, like many other local governments, has had a decline in revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading county officials to cut expenses in many areas.
County Manager Katherine Miller said the county hasn’t had to use reserve funds to balance the budget but may have to eventually.
“We budgeted so much tighter this year that we’re likely not to have excess,” Miller said. “Let’s hope by next year all this COVID-19 stuff is gone.”
The commission will vote on the final budget July 14.
Commissioners had little to say about the proposed final budget when it was presented Tuesday, with some saying they had little time to review the presentation ahead of time.
“It’s really not enough time, but I understand we’re in these situations,” Commissioner Anna Hansen said. “It would be helpful if we have at least a day to look things over.”