Commissioners start trimming for 2004-05 budget

By Tony Parra

Roosevelt County commissioners and county officials began trimming the proposed 2004-2005 budget on Tuesday in the regular commission meeting to make ends meet.
The revenue money Roosevelt County has is not generating enough interest to offset its expenses, Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said. Hardin said the amount for revenue was $2.8 million last year, but is only $2,727,711 this year.
“It’s down $100,000 on projections from last year,” Roosevelt County Commissioner Tom Clark said. “We’ve been in the red for a while.”
For the 2004-05 initial proposed budget presented by Hardin, the amount of revenue was the total of $2,727,711 — the amount of expenses was $3,903,090.
Hardin would also like to add a full-time employee to her staff. Bekki Hall of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department would also like to add a full-time employee to her staff to replace a part-time employee, who she said will be leaving Portales for the summer.
Hardin said insurance rates for Roosevelt County employees also made an impact on this year’s budget. She said Blue Cross/Blue Shield rates have gone up 16 percent.
Hardin made cuts in the proposed budget for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department to try to make up the disparity between the county’s expenses and revenues. Originally, the sheriff’s department requested three new vehicles from the county, but with the proposed cuts would only receive one from the county.
“We have seven vehicles which are over 100,000 miles,” Roosevelt County Sheriff Tom Gossett said. “(Former Roosevelt County Sheriff C.D.) Newberry bought used vehicles with substantial mileage on them.”
Hardin said she based the cuts on previous budget cuts. She also proposed to keep salary increases at 3 percent, for those who are scheduled to receive increases. Some departments had 5 percent increases for some of their employees.
Commissioners also decided to continue participation in a New Mexico legislative reporting system. The system allows Roosevelt County officials to view bills which pertain to Roosevelt County and track them throughout the legislative session.
Hardin said the New Mexico Association of Counties needs $7,000 for the system for the 2004 legislative session. There are 33 counties which participate in the system, but commissioners want to know exactly how much of the $7,000 pertains to Roosevelt County by the next meeting.
There will be at least two meetings to determine the final budget.