April 23 First News: SF facing $9m budget shortfall for next fiscal year. (listen)

The finance committee of Santa Fe's City Council is meeting again today to grapple with a shortfall of $9 million in next year's budget.  The city manager says spending is expected to rise next year to a level that is $6 million more than regular revenue will cover. The council also has to find a way to fill an expected gap of about $3 million in gross receipts taxes.  City manager Robert Romero says the overall shortfall could be covered by modest spending cuts, including leaving some vacant positions open and adjusting some department budgets.

Plans are being developed by the city and the county to spend about $400,000 to find ways to improve recycling and the handling of trash throughout the greater Santa Fe area. An Austin consulting firm will make recommendations on how the city's recycling rate can be improved and how to increase the rate of trash pickup outside city limits. The New Mexican reports that as little as 20% of the trash estimated to be produced in unincorporated areas of the county ever makes it to the waste transfer station.

A Santa Fe man who performed dental work out of his car for some five years is in jail on multiple charges including practicing without a license and dispensing controlled substances.  36-year-old Eliver Kestler was widely known as "El Dentista." He was arrested after law enforcement posing as a potential patient arranged to meet with him. Police recovered dental tools stored in dirty toolboxes Kestler kept in his car.  He's now being held at the County Jail without bond. Law enforcement wants to hear from anyone who had work done by Kestler.  

Sandia National Laboratories has developed a non-explosive form of widely-used ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Such a product would greatly improve industrial safety while also thwarting use of the volatile substance for making bombs. That kind of fertilizer was used for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.   It may also have played a role in last week’s fire and explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant.  Today's Albuquerque Journal says that Sandia thinks some 65% of all improvised explosive devices detonated in Afghanistan last year used the substance.  The Lab has discovered that mixing the fertilizer with iron sulfate renders it harmless.

A federal official in Dallas is recommending that a proposed horse slaughterhouse in Roswell be granted permission to take the first steps toward being allowed to operate. The New York Times is reporting that the Valley Meat Company would have to prove it can produce a safe product that meets federal standards.  Meanwhile, advocates for horses argue that the owner should not be given a license because he failed to disclose several felonies in his application.  

The long-awaited groundbreaking for Santa Fe Community College’s Higher education center takes place this afternoon at 2PM. The 31,000 square-foot, $9.8 million center is located at Siringo Road and Yucca adjacent to the Santa Fe University of Art & Design. SFCC has teamed with the University of New Mexico, the Institute of American Indian Arts and New Mexico Highlands University to offer students the chance to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Santa Fe.

When Santa Fe City Council meets tomorrow, they'll take time to make a proclamation honoring Santa Fe Municipal Airport General Manager Jim Montman.  He’s retiring next week after some twelve and a half years of service.  In comments to KSFR, Montman spoke briefly of the process of choosing his replacement.....*****clip

Weather for Santa Fe – partly sunny and much cooler today with highs in the mid 50s.  There’s a 10% chance for a passing shower through the evening hours.  Overnight lows near 30. Mostly sunny tomorrow with highs in the low 60s.