County commissioners look to trim budgett numbers

By Tony Parra

The Roosevelt County commissioners’ first budget hearing brought about the news that commissioners must try to find a way to cut $1.4 million from the requested amount to balance the budget.
The hearing on Tuesday was the first step in putting together a budget for the fiscal year which runs from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2005 for the county. According to county manager Charlene Hardin’s numbers, the estimated revenue is $6,108,803 and the estimated expenditures is $7,514,184.
Commissioners will have three options to look at for balancing the budget:
• Shave money from department expenditures,
• Take money out of the cash reserves or
• A combination of cuts and cash reserves.
Department heads for most of the departments requested between 4 percent and 5 percent increases in salaries for employees. Royene Tivis, county assessor, felt it was unfair for employees that in some cases the pay increases would merely make up for the rising costs of health insurance.
Commissioners Dennis Lopez and Gene Creighton both stated that this is the case for other government entities, also.
“We don’t want to lose good workers because of the pay,” Jackie Grimes, road superintendent, said.
Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator Jesse Luera feels the same way about detention center workers. Luera is requesting an increase for starting employees from $8.92 to $10.17 an hour.
The sheriff, detention center and road departments have the largest budgets from the county. Short requested $860,525 for the sheriff’s department. The department received $713,762 operational expenses for 2004-05.
Short said he would like for deputies to have a 20-year retirement plan instead of the current 25-year retirement plan. He said other law enforcement and fire fighter departments such as the Portales Police, Portales Fire, Curry County Sheriff and Chavez County Sheriff departments have 20-year retirement plans in place.
Sheriff’s department representatives also estimated $35,000 in fuel expenses for 2005-06.
Road department officials are requesting $2,115,083 for the 2005-06 fiscal year and last year they received $2,020,690. Grimes said he requested $68,000 for fuel expenses for the 2004-05 fiscal year and he has already spent close to $90,000 with 2 1/2 months left in the fiscal year. Grimes requested $100,000 for fuel for the 2005-06 fiscal year.
Luera is requesting $1,151,879 for the detention center’s budget for the fiscal year of 2005-06. For the 2004-05 year the department received $1,227,195.