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Berry Submits Flat Budget

Berry Submits Flat Budget

Albuquerque Mayor Says Budget Balanced, Includes No Tax Hikes

Mayor Richard Berry has submitted a flat general fund budget for next year that contains continued funding for a 1,000-officer police force, $1.2 million for a property crime reduction program and a 1 percent pay raise for about 900 city employees.

The $529.6 million general fund budget represents a 0.6 percent increase over the current budget and contains no tax increases, layoffs or furloughs.

“The budget is structurally balanced without raising taxes and contains only modest cost increases balanced against conservative revenue estimates,” Berry said in his budget message to the City Council.

“In fact, when adjusted for inflation, the FY/18 budget is still much lower than the budget I inherited in FY/10, meaning we have managed to keep the growth in the cost of city government lower than inflation—without compensating service delivery.”

The total cost of running city government next year, which includes enterprise funds that pay for themselves, is $955.3 million, or 3 percent more than this year’s budget of $926.3 million.

The police department is the big budgetary winner, picking up an additional $7 million to train more police cadets, attack property crime and reduce the backlog of untested rape kits.

The budget also includes a 1 percent pay raise for 900 city workers who make less than $30,000 a year and a 2 percent raise for city bus drivers. Berry said he hopes he can eventually give a 1 percent raise to all other city workers. But that will depend on an agreement between the state and Amazon on how to distribute tax revenues Amazon collects in the state from internet sales.

Some of the budget highlights include:

  • $552,000 for 12 new staff positions at the Albuquerque BioPark that will be needed to open the new otter and penguin exhibits
  • $360,000 for the continuation of the Downtown Clean and Safe program
  • $1 million to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits
  • $633,000 in reserved lodgers and hospitality money to host the National Senior Games

Berry also said that for the third consecutive year, the city has been able to negotiate flat health care costs for its employees.

“This is almost unheard of in government,” Berry said. “We have done this by working closely with our medical provider.”

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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