Commission trying to trim projected deficit

By Tony Parra

County commissioners narrowed the gap between the estimate revenue and expenditures from $1.4 million to $715,143 in an effort to balance the county budget for the fiscal year of 2005-06.
Commissioners met on Tuesday for their second of three budget hearings. The first budget requests on April 19 showed an amount of expenditures which would exceed the revenue by $1.4 million. Since then cuts in the detention center budget and sheriff department budget for operational costs among other cuts have trimmed the $1.4 million to approximately $715,143 in the red.
Commissioners will still be reviewing the proposed budget to see if there are any other areas they can cut. Hardin said there was a budget deficit of $930,000 for the 2004-05 fiscal budget.
Commissioners are looking at an estimated revenue of $6.79 million for the 2005-06 fiscal year and are currently $715,143 from the estimated expenditures of reaching a balanced budget.
One of the areas commissioners can look at for cuts is proposed personnel salary increases. Department heads requested a 5 percent increase in salary for their personnel. Hardin said a 2 percent increase in salary would cover the cost of living, such as rising health insurance. She said the other 3 percent would go to the employee.
Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator Jesse Luera is requesting the starting pay for RCDC be increased from $8.92 to $10.17.
“I’ve had 36 staff members quit since I started (as administrator),” Luera said, providing the commissioners with a box full of folders of the employees who have been terminated or resigned. “That’s a lot of employees to go through in two and a half years. They are (wage) increases that I feel are necessary.”
Luera said 20 employees left on their own, some to better paying jobs in the same fields and 16 were terminated because they did not meet qualifications. Rick Short, sheriff department sergeant, asked about the possibility of raising property taxes.
“We represent the people,” Tom Clark, commissioner, said. “They don’t want them raised.”