The Artesia City Council would like a helping of ample wage freezes with a side of lower spending on overtime pay – hold the layoffs.
Those were a few of the selections the council made from a menu of budget-cut options the Budget and Finance Committee has served to help fix the city’s finance problems. Following over two hours of budget discussion, the majority of the council gave their approval to adopt the 2016-17 interim budget.
To pass the budget as it’s written, all training will be reduced to essential training that is to gain or maintain a certification that is a job requirement; wage freezes for all positions will be implemented; council approval will be required to fill a position after it’s been vacated due to resignation, termination or transfer; overtime will be reduced in all departments as well as consistently monitored by the council on a month-to-month basis; and outside requests will be reduced by 25 percent.
“This is not the new normal, guys,” said Councilor Bill Rogers, who serves on the Budget and Finance Committee. “We’re just trying to get by. If in July it’s not going in the direction we want, the possibility always exists where things can move one way or the other.”
Mayor Phil Burch felt as if he and his councilors were between a rock and a hard place.
“I don’t think we have too many alternatives. We can allow the year to unfold and simply not replace open positions,” said Burch. “It’s an alternative that doesn’t give us too much control of our future.”
When it came time to vote “yea” or “nay,” the majority voted to approve the interim budget, with Councilor Jose Luis Aguilar voting against. Councilor Raul Rodriguez was absent.
In other business Tuesday, Changing Lives Coalition Inc. requested the use of Jaycee Park from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. July 2 for a four-on-four elite football tournament, contingent upon proof of security. Also, the 2016 Uniform Traffic Ordinance update was postponed once again until the June 14 council meeting.
Stephanie Robinson was approved to be hired as museum registrar at a rate of pay of $1,892 per month, and Kyla Gonzales was promoted to administrative assistant in the infrastructure department at a rate of pay of $2,754 per month.
As part of the consent agenda, the council approved:
• the resignations of Brittany Peck, administrative assistant in the infrastructure department, and Kevin Willard, firefighter, effective May 27 and May 30 respectively.
• a public hearing for June 14 for consideration of an ordinance for Case No. 16-05, a zone change from “R1-B” Single Family District to “C” Business District at 202 S. 19th St., Tract 1 of the Parrish Subdivision.
• permission for one police employee to attend instructor development training in Carlsbad.
• permission for one police employee to attend the Child Safety Seat Clinic in Albuquerque.
• permission for one fire employee to attend the ISFSI Training Officer Credential Program in Prescott Valley, Ariz.
• permission for one fire employee to attend the Fire Officer III/IV Combination Course in Lewisville, Texas.
• a request from the Eddy County Fair Association for a standby ambulance for a rodeo to be held at 8 p.m. July 29.
• a request from the Artesia Chamber of Commerce and Eddy County Fair Association for permission to hold the annual Fair Parade from 4-5 p.m.m July 25 with the closure of Main Street from 10th Street east to Roselawn Avenue.
• a request from the Artesia Arts Council for the use of Central Park from noon – 1:15 p.m. June 1, 15 and 29 for the summer Brown Bag Theatre.
• a request from the Artesia Arts Council for the use of Central Park from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Oct. 14 and 15 for Art in the Park.