City says budget OK'd

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By David Giuliani

The city of Las Vegas appears to have found its way out of a budget predicament that could have meant big cuts for its general fund.

City Manager Sharon Caballero said the city received a letter from the state last week indicating that it had approved a revised city budget.

The state Department of Finance and Administration had been concerned with a longstanding $740,000 deficit in the solid waste department as well as a $260,000 shortfall as a result of miscalculations in the last fiscal year’s expenditures and revenues.

To make up the difference, city officials had feared that they would have to wield the budget ax for the $10.5 million general fund — which pays for everything from police to parks.

But at a recent City Council meeting, Councilman Morris Madrid, a former city finance director, suggested that the city make a temporary loan from another fund, such as the growing pot of money dedicated for water rights purchases.

Caballero said last week that’s exactly what the city did to make the state happy with its budget.

She said the state approved the budget contingent on the council’s approval.

The city’s advisory finance committee is also expected to look at the document.

The city has had more difficulty with the budget than it has in recent years. It had to hire an accounting firm earlier this year to help out after a council majority voted to fire the finance director, among other officials.

The firm, Albuquerque-based Atkinson Co., drafted a budget in July that included a number of basic errors, prompting the council’s rejection. The firm returned later, and the budget was approved.

Madrid has questioned whether the city should still be using the Atkinson firm.

The recent problems are the worst since the early part of the decade when the state at one point threatened to take over the city’s financial operations. At the time, the city hired Madrid to clean up the problems.