Alamosa sets 2019 budget

ALAMOSA — Reflecting modest but steady growth in revenues, the City of Alamosa proposes to approve a $23 million budget this month.

The Alamosa city council approved the budget ordinance on first reading on Wednesday and scheduled it for a public hearing during its next meeting on October 17. At that time the council will also approve the city’s pay plan, which is being adjusted to reflect raises and other salary adjustments.

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks told the council on Wednesday that Alamosa has experienced a 3-percent growth in sales tax, which provides the basis for the 2019 budget.

She added that the 2019 budget reflects a 3.5 percent cost of living raise for city employees in addition to some increases within various classifications and the addition of a seasonal employee in the parks/maintenance department. She added the next minimum wage increase will occur in 2020.

The city budget also reflects more than $1 million in street improvements including design work in the Washington Addition. Councilman Charles Griego said he especially appreciated the Washington Addition street work in the budget because he has been trying for years to get improvements in that area.

Brooks said historically the city was spending about $500,000 on streets. “That does not get us very much from a street perspective,” she said.

The city is also continuing to fund capital improvements in addition to special projects like the downtown master plan, the Boys & Girls Club Tech Academy and the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program whose $433,639 budget is essentially pass through because of grant funding.

Next year’s budget will include the final funding for the conversion of streetlights to LED lighting, Brooks added.

Brooks explained that some minor cuts were made in some areas such as the art program, landscaping and economic development that while they are beneficial to the city they are not as vital as areas such as police, fire and streets.

The city was also able to reduce the budget for jail costs by $50,000, Brooks said, due to changes in the municipal court and using Advantage Treatment Center instead of jail.

Another positive in 2019 is no increase in employee health insurance, Brooks said, although the city can likely expect an increase the following year.

According to city ordinance, there will be rate increases for utility customers in January. Residents can expect an 8-percent increase in sewer, 5-percent in water and 10-percent in sanitation.

Councilman David Broyles said as a new member of council, he was impressed with the budget and appreciated the staff’s work on it.

“I think overall this is a good budget,” he said.

Mayor Ty Coleman added his appreciation to the council and staff for their efforts. “You have done a wonderful job.”