By Jack King
The Clovis City Commission on Wednesday approved a preliminary budget of $27 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
The amount is approximately $3.3 million less than last year’s final budget, but city officials said they probably will add more spending before the final budget is submitted to the state’s Department of Finance and Administration on July 31.
“This is a working budget and we’ll be adding projects to it over the next two months. I think the final budget will be about the same as last year’s,” City Finance Director Don Clifton said.
Public Works Director Harry Wang said among the items still to be considered for next year by the commission are about $3 million in street and drainage projects, although the specific projects have yet to be specified, he said.
Clifton said many of the city’s spending decisions will wait until nearer June 30, the end of the city’s fiscal year, when he has a better idea of how much revenue the city has left from this year’s budget. The commission will consider the final budget sometime in July, he said.
Clifton told the commission the city administration is considering a 3 percent pay raise for city employees, although a decision on the raise will have to wait until he determines the full amount of the city’s revenue.
City Commissioner Catherine Haynes said Police Chief Bill Carey told the city’s Public Safety Committee his department is facing an emergency in hiring and retaining officers. She said even if the city decides not to offer a raise to other employees it should consider raises for police officers.
City Commissioner Robert Sandoval said the council might consider across-the-board raises for city employees, with additional incentives for “public safety employees,” such as police and firefighters.
Mayor David Lansford said an implication of the discussion is that if Clovis wants to be able to offer raises to its employees it will have to raise taxes. He added that the city already plans to ask voters to approve a one-quarter-percent increase in gross receipts taxes for capital improvements during city elections in March.
In other action Wednesday, the commission approved hiring Keith Day to perform the city’s annual audit, with the provision that Day provide a $2 million bond.