El Paso City Council makes budget adjustments to make up for $7.3 million shortfall

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso City Council on Tuesday made budget transfers to make up for a $7.3 million shortfall in expected revenues.

Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, the City's Chief Financial Officer told City Representatives the 2% shortfall in expected revenues was mostly due to a decrease in sales taxes, franchise fees and fines.

She proposed some moves to help diffuse the shortfall, which included postponing until the Summer fire and police academies, slated in the Spring in an effort to avoid paying new employees until the next budget quarter.

Arrieta-Candelaria also proposed cutting the general fund by $5.8 million and transferring about $500,000 from the City's Development Department to the General Services Department.

City Representatives Eddie Holguin and Lily Limon became visibly upset with the proposal. Holguin asked Candelaria and City employees to be more conservative when projecting revenue. "Why are you so irresponsible in forecasting the income that the city brings in, why do you always project the amount of revenue that's coming and every year you're off  and every year if you're off, why don't you lower your projections," Holguin asked Candelaria.

"Those city representatives (who criticized staff) are never going to be kind to city staff, I don't think, no matter what they do. We have professionals who try to project the amount of revenue that we're going to get based on the information that they have and you're never going to be 100% correct.  I do personally wish that we would be a little more conservative," said Michiel Noe, when asked if he agreed with Holguin's critiques.

Arrieta-Candelaria said if council didn't approve the budget transfers then those revenue shortfalls would start eating away at the city's overall budget and that could potentially affect it's credit and bond rating.
City Representatives Lily Limon and Eddie Holguin voted against the budget transfers, while Larry Romero, Michiel Noe, Ann Morgan Lilly voted in favor of Arrieta-Candelaria's recommendations.

The city also implemented a hiring freeze.

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