Rio Rancho’s new mayor Gregg Hull is setting off at a gallop in hot pursuit of economic development.

His response to City Manager Keith Riesberg’s recommended $54.3 million city budget for fiscal year 2015 that begins July 1: double the proposed amount for economic development efforts, and boost the mayor’s budget so he can promote Rio Rancho to the nation and the world.

“Competing to bring jobs and businesses to the city means involvement and engagement on a nationwide and even global scale,” Hull said in his Friday response letter to Riesberg.

He expressed optimism that the city’s economy appears to be rebounding. He referred to job-creating projects in the pipeline, such as Presbyterian Health Services’ planned $80 million expansion of the Rust Medical Center; new jobs at Stream Global Services, which was recently purchased by Convergys; the arrival of DHF Technical Products, a precious metals processing company; and a new assisted living facility in the Loma Colorado community.

Hull believes city leaders need to keep that momentum going with targeted funding.

Use $3.25 million from the higher education gross receipts tax fund to extend Broadmoor Boulevard from Norwich Avenue to Paseo del Volcan, improving road access to the UNM West campus and City Center.

Give all city employees a 2 percent pay raise to retain skilled and knowledgeable staffers, costing $739,468.

Use $1 million from the general fund operating budget for road preservation to improve road surfaces.

Add a crime analyst and a Communications Division IT specialist position, budgeted at around $81,000.

Fund 10 seasonal public works positions, budgeted at $75,085.

Riesberg had recommended increasing the city’s funding for a contract with an economic development organization from $80,000 to $100,000. Hull’s response is to increase that amount to $200,000.

Budget hearings
What: The city council will hear public comment on the budget at its regular meetings starting at 6 p.m. May 14 and May 28 at City Hall.
When: Thursday, May 1; Tuesday, May 6; and Wednesday, May 7 at 6 p.m.
Where: Rio Rancho City Hall.

A vote to adopt the budget will take place at the May 28 meeting.

Riesberg said the city will soon announce the entity it will hire for economic development services.

Last July, city councilors rejected an $80,000 contract with Rio Rancho Economic Development Corp., the organization that had provided those services since 1992.

“I believe more investment will yield a higher rate of return,” Hull’s letter said.

He also asked for hefty increases to the proposed mayor’s budget, specifically raising the amount for conferences, travel and training from the proposed $2,445 to $17,445, and increasing the budget for memberships/subscriptions, such as membership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, from $6,391 to $11,391.

“I believe the number one duty of the Mayor is economic development for the community,” Hull wrote. “Because of this, an appropriate level of resources must be allocated.

Riesberg’s recommended budget shows expenditures at 1.3 percent, or $672,371, higher than the current budget, stemming from increased spending for, among other things, economic development and personal services.

In his recommended budget, Riesberg projected revenues for general fund operating expenses for fiscal year 2015 would increase by 4.9 percent, or $2.6 million, compared to the current fiscal year. He attributed that primarily to a projected $2.1 million increase in gross receipts taxes from the sale of goods and services. He estimated the tax revenue would be $27 million, or about 49 percent of the city’s operating revenues.

Property tax revenue, franchise fees, and Parks and Recreation fee revenues are also projected to be higher in fiscal year 2015, according to Riesberg.

Councilors will discuss the budget during three hearings in early May, and take public comment at their regular meetings on May 14 and 28 when they will vote to adopt the budget.

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