Las Cruces cuts spending to prepare for financial setbacks

POSTED: 09:10 PM MST Nov 30, 2012    UPDATED: 12:20 PM MDT Mar 19, 2014 

The city of Las Cruces is making hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cuts in spending in efforts to prepare for possible financial setbacks like the "fiscal cliff."

The city is making cuts across the board, from job vacancies to senior-citizen centers.

Some seniors are not happy about it.

City Manager Robert Garza told ABC-7 that residents will see the benefits in the end.

At the Munson Center, seniors spend their days dancing, making crafts and playing pool.

They're not dancing to the news of the city cutting back hours at the center.

"I know money has a lot to do with it, but a lot of the seniors have no other place to go. This is their activity to sit and converse with others and if they're taking things away then they have nowhere to go," said Las Crucen Linda Miller.

Garza said it just doesn't make sense financially to keep the center open on weekends.

"Is it worth $40,000 a year to allow four people to play pool on a Saturday afternoon? The answer is simply no," Garza said.

He said the city is doing well now, but it has to be prepared for financial setbacks in the future.

"There's always a fiscal cliff for us. We have the state government who passes laws, whether it's tax pyramiding on manufacturing and construction or hold harmless changes or a variety of things that are constantly on the horizon," Garza said.

He said the city hopes to save hundreds of thousands of dollars by making changes that don't adversely affect a lot of people.

For example, the city is saving $80,000 for each park lawn mower it does not replace.

Garza said it will save $40,000 a year by not opening the Munson Center on Saturdays.

On top of that, he said the city will save thousands more by painting road lines less frequently and not filling job vacancies.

Seniors said they still don't think the cuts are justified.

"I moved here because they said Las Cruces was one of the 10 best places for seniors at one point in time. If you're advertising this as a city for seniors and you're cutting back your senior activities, what kind of city is that? What does that say?" Miller said.

Garza said the city currently has twice the amount of money in reserves that is required by law. The city hopes to triple that -- just in case.