by Marty Mayfield
RATON — Raton City Commissioners met Tuesday in a special session to handle a bid request, budget adjustment, and budget discussion that got down to some nitty gritty conversations about insurance and clothing allowances.
Before the budget discussion, commissioners approved David Parker Builders bid for work at the senior center in the library /conference room to make the room more usable. Parker’s bid came in at $20,200 versus Archuleta Construction’s bid of $22,200.
Commissioners approved creating a special revenue fund for the Shuler Theater LEDA digital upgrade grant. According to City Treasurer Michael Ann Antonucci this is a formality that they asked for commission approval before setting up a special fund.
Commissioners also approved budget adjustments for a police department grant and general fund transfers.
The city budget is going to be fluid for the time being as there are still questions about health insurance premiums and gross receipts taxes. Budget meetings are also addressing the fact the small cities assistance funds fell short of last year’s budget by about $90,000.
City Manager Scott Berry noted, while GRT is down by about 3% by the end of the fiscal year, the city could be closer to budget with the construction projects resumption of work after a winter hiatus.
While it is still unknown how much of a change there will be in health insurance premiums, Antonucci is budgeting for about 10%. It could be less, it could be more, and there are other alternatives the city has been hearing about such as hiring a professional to negotiate for the city to bring premiums down or at least keeping them even.
Other considerations to health insurance might be changes in the employee premium split to a 70-30 or even as much as a 60-40. Currently the split is 80-20 with the employee covering 20% while the city covers 80%.
Another subject Mayor Sandy Mantz brought up pointed to savings from changing the clothing allowance city employees receive. She suggested giving only employees that need it a clothing allowance, and those that don’t, such as administration or others that don’t require special clothing, not be given an allowance at all.
Commissioner Don Giacomo suggested commissioners give this one some thought as to how to cover employees with consideration for special uniforms.
Antonucci said the budget will reflect a flat gross receipts income over the next year. While GRT makes up over 60% of the city’s income, any variance in the tax could be tough to deal with.
The small cities assistance fund was a program created when the GRT was removed from food purchases at grocery stores and other places and was intended to replace that GRT. It has fallen short over the last year and it is expected that will continue into the foreseeable future.
Despite the shortfall, Berry is recommending a 1% increase in salaries for all employees which is considered to be a cost of living adjustment which will barely cover that, and probably fall short.