Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
After a year marked by uncertainty, Bernalillo County is banking on continued economic recovery to carry out a 3.4% spending increase in 2022.
The County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a fiscal 2022 budget that raises general fund spending on division operations to $351.8 million, or about $12 million, over original 2021 levels.
The increases cover a 2% across-the-board employee pay raise, 20 new positions, predominantly in the Fire and Rescue Department and Animal Care Department, as well as higher health insurance expenses and cost escalations in contracted services.
The budget – which the commission passed in less than 10 minutes during its public meeting Tuesday – assumes growth in the county’s two primary revenue streams for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Officials anticipate 1.6% more in property tax and 3.8% more in gross receipts tax, according to county budget documents.
Gross receipts tax – assessed on the sale of nearly every good and service – makes up more than half of the county’s budget, but it has been somewhat unpredictable due to COVID-19 and the related economic shutdown.
The county even rewrote the current year’s budget in September, having assumed GRT revenue would fall $13.5 million short of original expectations. But the county is now on pace to exceed those original 2021 GRT expectations by the time the fiscal year ends June 30.
“It’s bouncing back quicker (than expected),” said Shirley Ragin, deputy county manager for finance, noting that county officials talked to economists and the New Mexico Economic Development Department while crafting the budget.
Although Ragin said the economic picture is starting to stabilize a bit, “we didn’t jump out and do any major things” with the budget, which is designed so that the county can weather some potential revenue gaps.
When it comes to spending, the largest line item is the Metropolitan Detention Center. The jail accounts for $65.4 million, or almost 19%, of general fund appropriations.
That does not include additional costs paid out of other funds, such as $10.6 million for the jail’s medical contract.
The county will spend another $54.9 million in general fund money on the Sheriff’s Office. A separate revenue stream will provide $1.1 million for BCSO vehicles.
Other general fund expenditures include:
⋄ $30.7 million for Fleet and Facilities.
⋄ $27.2 million for Fire and Rescue.
⋄ $18.9 million for Information Technology.
⋄ $11 million for Parks and Recreation.
⋄ $8.1 million for the Youth Services Center detention facility.
⋄ $6.4 million for Planning and Development Services.
⋄ $6.3 million for the county clerk.