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It became clear in December 2012 that our net county tax revenues for fiscal year (FY) 2013 would be about $9 million less than initially projected.
We can make up half of that shortfall by economizing on county operations.
The county has maintained reserves of 25% of yearly revenues, about $15 million, to deal with such problems.
So why not go ahead with our original spending plans, and just dip into reserves for the other half of the shortage?
The answer is that this is potentially not a single-year budget problem.
Estimated revenues for the next few years are at best flat, so a substantial part of this year’s shortage is likely to continue.
Going farther into reserves in coming years would put us at a serious disadvantage if revenues drop still further.
Federal sequestration cuts, or a federal deficit-reduction deal that involves unknown spending cuts, are quite possible.
The national security and science roles of LANL will not disappear, but we can’t assume that the Lab will be immune to the budget pressures on all parts of government.
Some re-evaluation of our county’s spending priorities is clearly in order.
In 2012, the county council made plans to spend $33 million over the next four years on eight new Capital Improvement Projects (CIPs).
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