Tucumcari Mayor Antonio Apodaca asked city staff Monday to come with several options to lower a proposed 15 percent increase in water rates.
Senior citizens, those on a fixed income, are taking the hit, Apodaca said.
A 15 percent increase would mean a city water customer who used 3,000 gallons a month would pay $0.93 more per 1,000 gallons of water than the current $4.20 per 1,000 gallons of water.
The increase is being sought to cover a projected budget deficit of $175,000 next fiscal year.
However, at Monday's City Commission budget workshop, it was learned several city departments would need about $107,000 in additional cash to cover deficits in the current budget.
The departments include the city's Tucumcari Senior Citizens Center and Emergency Medical Services.
City staffer Clara Rey, who reviewed the books with Senior Citizens director Suzann Martin, said the center is looking for ways to cut costs.
Those could include cost-saving measures such as reducing workers' hours, cutting back on hours the center is open, or charging a minimal fee for such services as transportation.
The EMS department has not been paid for about half its receivables.
Those payments are not paid in full because insurers are not allocating payments for the full costs, said Mike Cherry, assistant city manager.
The city hires a billing firm, which charges a seven-percent fee on money collected. Cherry said it may be possible to bring that operation in-house for an equal or lesser cost than what EMS pays the billing firm.
Cherry was recently named to the post of assistant city manager, following the appointment of Bobbye Rose to city manager. Cherry also continues to serve as the fire chief.
The meeting began with a presentation by Erik Harrigan, vice president of Albuquerque-based RBC Capital Markets, on the city's debt service and debt capacity.
The city currently has bond issues which it has to honor, upcoming debts from stimulus funding which it has to pay for water projects, and the ability to establish additional taxes, including some which would have to be approved by voters, Harrigan said.
The City Commission rescheduled its Thursday, June 11, regular meeting to 6 p.m. on June 16 at City Hall.
The city also rescheduled the Tucumcari Housing Authority Advisory Board special work session 5:30 p.m. on June 16 at City Hall.