City approves interim budget

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Police, code enforcement receiving more funding

By Martin Salazar

While state government and school districts are having to tighten their belts, the city of Las Vegas anticipates that it will actually have more money to spend during the fiscal year that begins July 1 compared to its current year budget.

And the increased budget will mean more funding for city police and code enforcement, City Manager Timothy Dodge said.

A preliminary budget plan approved by the governing body last week anticipates general fund revenues at $11 million, $495,000 more than the current year’s budget.

The city’s general fund pays for government services like police, fire and code enforcement.

“We’re doing good financially, given the state of the economy,” Mayor Alfonso Ortiz said during a budget hearing held last Tuesday. He said that unlike other government entities, the city hasn’t had to lay off or furlough employees.

The City Council approved the preliminary budget at a special meeting last Thursday. The city’s final budget is due to the state Department of Finance and Administration by July 31.

The increase in general fund revenues is due primarily to the quarter percent gross receipts tax increase the city began collecting in January, Dodge said. He said the tax was always available to the city, but it didn’t begin collecting it until recently.

Dodge said the city only received $300,000 from the quarter percent GRT this fiscal year because it only collected it for half the year. The city anticipates the tax will generate $670,000 during the upcoming fiscal year.

The city’s budget also anticipates that gross receipts taxes in general will increase as the economy continues to rebound.

The budget for city police, meanwhile, is set at just over $3.9 million, nearly $228,000 more than the current year’s budget. Dodge said the extra funding will be used to fill positions that had been frozen.

The code enforcement budget will be set at nearly $152,000, roughly $55,000 more than its current year budget.

White the city’s general fund pays for general services, the city also operates several enterprise funds, including its water, gas and solid waste systems.

Overall, the budget details nearly $42.8 million in expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year.

Dodge said that there is money available for employee raises, though it is unclear what those raises will be given that negotiations with unions are under way.

Other items of note in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year:

• It anticipates that the city will have cash balances of about $12.3 million on June 30, 2012.

• The subsidy for the city recreation center is estimated at $477,000

• Substantial rate increases imposed this fiscal year for trash service will help push the solid waste department’s revenues for the upcoming fiscal year to about $3.1 million, roughly $690,000 more than budgeted revenues for the current fiscal year.

Mayor Ortiz stressed that the document approved last week is merely a preliminary budget and that it is subject to change. It’s simply a working document, he said.