Council approves budget carry-overs

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By Kirsten Laskey

Although the accounting books may have been closed on fiscal year 2010, there are still items from this fiscal year that require money. In response, Los Alamos County Council approved a request to carry-over budgets from FY 2010 to FY 2011 and a contingency of up to $31,000 to cover public information and legal costs associated with the charter review.
The carry-over budgets will be for projects that were unfinished in FY 2010 as well as on-going programs.
Carry-over budgets to complete projects that were delayed include:
• $81,500 from the general fund for various park maintenance projects not completed in FY 2010 because of timing delays;
• $681,000 from the general fund for pavement projects not completed due to excessive snow and ice delays and an abnormal amount of concrete damage due to a harsh winter;
• $51,300 from the capital improvement fund for various park small capital projects not completed in FY 2010 such as replacing the FEMAville tot lot, replacing the small pavilion at Rover Park, installing a new retaining wall around the pavilion at Overlook Park and constructing a handicap access ramp at Ashley Pond; and
• $500,000 from the utilities fund for several utilities capital improvement projects such as a replacement to 4th Street, which totals $118,000, an upgrade to a circuit on Central Avenue, which is $300,000 and a replacement on La Paloma Drive in White Rock, which is $82,000.
Also,  there were non-project operating budgets that needed to be carried over to continue funding for on-going programs not completed in FY 2010.
These were:
• $5,980 from the general fund for the continuation of the Charter Review Committee. The money was the remainder of the FY 2010 contingency;
• $440,000 from the general fund for the Progress through Partnering Program;
• $10,000 from the general fund for the facilitation of strategic planning meetings;
• $100,000 from the general fund for the county’s human resources department such as a compensation study, human resource manger recruitment and information system upgrades;
• $176,000 from the general fund for the GIS data acquisition, which is $68,000, Integraph password compliance software upgrade, which is $78,000 and $30,000 for Web developer contract to enhance the county’s Web site; and
• $35,000 from the environmental services fund for the solid waste rate study consultant.
Although the motion was passed six to one, with Vincent Chiravalle opposed to allocating $31,000 to the charter review, Councilor Ralph Phelps seemed initially skeptical.
He said whenever he sees carry-over requests it bothers him because it seems to imply someone isn’t doing their job.
Furthermore, Phelps asked if there are requests now for money for uncompleted projects, would these unfinished projects be completed within the next fiscal year.
County Administrator Tony Mortillaro said, “I don’t    believe any of this was purposeful or intentional.”  
Also, there should not be any reason why the project should not be completed, Mortillaro said, pointing out that unforeseen deterrents such as weather provided obstacles to getting projects completed.
He added he would love to minimize this need to carry-over budgets in the future.
Phelps said he could accept this reason. However, he cautioned the county to be vigilant with the budget.
Councilor Nona Bowman said she noticed that quite of few unfinished projects were in the parks division. She was concerned that there was not enough staff to carry out the work.
Mortillaro said staffing is always being looked at and sometimes to finish a large project, another project has to give.
While Councilor Robert Gibson said this was a routine action and the amount requested was not unreasonable, he also had some questions.  
He wondered if $30,000 had actually been set aside in the budget for a web developer contract.
Steve Lynne, administrative services director and chief financial officer, said this was not part of the original FY 2010 budget. However, direction was given at the end of FY 2010 for the web developer contract. Money was available at the end of year for the contract, he said, but because of turnover in the staff, work on the contract was not started.
Gibson asked if $30,000 would make a big difference in the Web site.
Lynne said for this project, there are near-terms and long-terms. The $30,000 is a near-term and will make a difference as far as the Web site’s look and feel, especially in the front page.
Councilor Mike Wheeler supported the request. He said in rough terms the budget for FY 2011 is $180 million. Therefore, the carry-over requests would be less than 1 percent.
He added that it was the county council that requested these projects be completed.