Road department faces budget shortfall

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

Budget shortfalls from the state have the Roosevelt County Road Department struggling to maintain or upgrade county roads, Department Supervisor Ricky Lovato said Tuesday.

Lovato told commissioners he has already cut back on vehicle maintenance and fuel to help save money.

“They cut us again,” Lovato said. “I would be happy just to do one mile (of road upgrades) this year in each district…because they are cutting us back so much.”

County Manager Charlene Hardin said she asked all county department heads to submit a bare bones budget without salary increases for preliminary budget hearings.

The 2008-2009 roads budget was $432,000, and could be cut to $258,000 for what the county recieves for annual funding for road improvements. The total budget for the county is slightly more than $9.5 million, said Hardin.

“We have been told unofficially that there is another 40 percent cut in the roads money,” Hardin said. “That is the most significant thing. It is based on a formula and the money we get is based on how many miles (of roads) that we have. People need to understand we don’t have the money to fix the roads like we used to.”

Hardin said the decrease is significant and the department was already working with 20 percent less money than what they had three years ago. Overall, there has been an 80 percent decrease in state road funding since 2008 fiscal year.

Hardin said the state sent a memo to the county commissioners suggesting no salary raises, no filling vacant positions and furloughs for all county employees.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Heard the budget report from County Clerk Janet Collins, who said all the numbers are the same this year and she has been working diligently to keep it that way. Collins said she wanted raises for her employees if it was possible.

• Heard the budget report from Treasurer Mickie Williams. She said her budget is going up because she wants to hire someone to replace a part-time employee, who is leaving. The new employee will be part-time and then move over to full-time in July.

• Heard the budget report from Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Malin Parker, who said there are no increases in the budget. The sheriff’s office has money budgeted for new vehicles each year. Parker said this year they will have to look into getting a new vehicle to transport prisoners because the van they use has 240,000 miles on it.

• Heard the budget from Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator David Casanova. He said they have been working to keep overtime down and have had a 1 percent decrease in the budget.

• Heard the budget report from County Manager Charlene Hardin. She said that retirement and health benefits have increased from 1.3 percent to 1.66 percent. The county is decreasing vehicle maintenance and increasing office supplies. Hardin said the fairgrounds are in good condition so they decreased maintenance to the grounds and there is $100,000 of capital outlay to be used before June 2011 for the building, but the county needs to come up with $190,000 to help relocate it.