News & Announcements
Responding, Rebalancing, Rebuilding
Preview: FY 2022 Budget Recommendations
THE RECOVERY BUDGET: In advance of the upcoming series of Finance Committee hearings on the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, this morning Mayor Webber and Finance Department Director Mary McCoy briefed local media on the broad themes and most salient details of the recommended budget. It's a "good news" document. City revenues are rebounding from the pandemic faster than anticipated and the forecast is cautiously optimistic that, barring a resurgence of the COVID virus or other setback, the comeback will gain momentum with gradual reopening.
FEDERAL RESCUE FUNDS: Underlying the optimism is the anticipation of receiving federal stimulus money ($15 million from the American Rescue Plan) and infrastructure spending, and capital improvement funding coming from the State, though these funds are not built into the budget. The total recommended spending is $348.6 million, an 11 percent increase over the FY21 budget. That said, McCoy projects that it will take two or three years for the local economy to return to pre-pandemic levels. Federal spending will help to cover that revenue deficit, and the budget may be adjusted in months to come as more money becomes available.
PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST: After a year of austerity, the proposed budget contains the equivalent of a 4 percent increase in pay and benefits for City employees. In addition, it will cover $2.3 million of increases in the cost of health care, with no added expense to employees. There's also money dedicated to employee education, training, and safety equipment. The workforce is also expanding in strategic ways: Many vacancies are being filled and new positions are being added in several departments to increase the City's capacity to provide improved, modernized services to residents, visitors, and businesspeople.
HOUSING DOWNPAYMENTS: The new budget invests $3 million in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which comes on top of the recent $1.8 million allocated recently. The City will also undertake a growth management study to proactively plot the way forward, and update the Land Use Code, while adding staff to administer construction needs. "Adding more housing is important," said Mayor Webber, "but only if it's sustainable and contributes to the character of Santa Fe."
PARKS IMPROVEMENTS: City medians and parks will benefit from the investment of $1 million toward weed control, playground and court improvements, portable toilets, litter cleanups, and trail maintenance.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY RECREATION: Over $1 million will go toward funding recreation for summer campers and jobs for the youth that serve them, and there will be sufficient funding to open all three recreation centers.
HEALTH AND SAFETY: A new Alternative Response Unit will assist the Fire Department in responding to problems like homelessness and behavioral and mental health calls. Many Police Department vacancies will be filled and staffing will be assessed to achieve the utmost efficiencies. "Public health and safety are two sides of the same coin," said Mayor Webber.
MODERNIZING CITY GOVERNMENT: Among several investments in updating the financial operations and administration of various departments, the City plans to establish a new Project Management Office in the Information Technology and Telecommunications Department, and to dedicate $1.8 million to equipment and services.
GOD IS IN THE DETAILS: In addition to big-ticket items, the budget calls for less costly but meaningful additions like an eviction hotline to help landlords and tenants find equitable solutions; a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coordinator to work with the Special Victims Unit in Police Department, and; funding for Spanish translation of select City documents and communications. "We are trying to pay attention to our values as well as the major issues that capture attention," said Mayor Webber.
FIND THE DOCUMENTS: The entire recommended budget, including the Mayor's introductory letter and the Executive Summary, is here. Mary MCoy's bullet-point highlights of the budget can be found here. And the schedule of Finance Committee hearings and the Governing Body vote can be found here and on the City's website portal.