Commissioners approve pay increase for county manager

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Commissioners and Curry County administrators toured the Special Events Center Tuesday morning after the county commission meeting. Work on the center is about 85 percent complete according to project supervisor Randy Kamradt.

By CNJ staff writer: Sharna Johnson

Curry County Commissioners decided to award County Manager Lance Pyle a $14,500 pay raise under a two-year contract Tuesday following an executive session.

The decision increases Pyle’s pay from about $87,500 to $102,000 a year.

The decision was made based on Pyle’s performance and the fact, “Lance does still wear many hats,” Commission Chairman Albin Smith said following the meeting.

“We want to keep him here.”

Under Pyle’s direction, workers compensation claims have dropped and the county administration is running efficiently and cutting costs, Smith said.

At 27, Pyle has been employed with the county for about 10 years and has worked through two other county managers, Smith said.

Outside his responsibilities as county manager, Pyle serves as indigent administrator, personnel director and risk manager.

“I think generally, the county commissioners are very pleased with what Lance has done,” he said.

“I know he’s very young but it’s not like he doesn’t have experience.”

Pyle, previously the assistant county manager, assumed the position in October when his predecessor resigned unexpectedly.

Former County Manager Dick Smith was earning $102,000 a year at the time of his resignation.

Albin Smith said approximately half of Pyle’s salary is paid by state monies through the indigent fund and the county pays the remainder through the general fund.

• Commissioner Frank Blackburn announced that he visited Cannon Air Force Base, met with Cannon officials and is in full support of the base’s efforts to develop a railroad quiet zone near military housing units there.

“It needs to happen. That base housing is less than 100 yards (from the crossing),” he said, explaining about 90 trains pass through the area a day.

• Patsy Delk unveiled the Curry County Centennial Cow. The scale replica cow and bears the county’s centennial logo and other symbolic artwork. “This was one of my dreams to do this,” Delk told commissioners, explaining she chose her paint colors, to represent “the color and contrast of this vast county.”

The cow is currently on display at the courthouse.

• County Assessor Randy Williams reported the state has determined there will be approximately a 9 percent increase in taxable property valuation this year. While it is a little less than last year, Williams said it is still good news for the county.

• County Clerk Mario Trujillo reported the state approved the vote canvassing from June’s primary election.

• Commissioners approved a request from Fairgrounds Manager Susan Ferrell to make a standard, lower fee for vendors to use the commercial barn. Under prior pricing, vendors were charged a double rate if they sold merchandise from their booths.

Traditionally the commercial barn is used by organizations seeking public exposure and Ferrell said other vendors don’t use it because of the expensive rate.

Ferrell said reducing the rate and going to a one-rate plan would bring more diversity to the fair and encourage more diverse vendors.

“It will be more interesting to the fairgoers to go in and see something different,” she said.

• County Manager Lance Pyle reported on the intent to adopt the nuisance ordinance. A meeting will be held Aug. 5 to garner public input, he said.

County Attorney Stephen Doerr said two paragraphs were removed from the most recent draft because they were too subjective and “difficult to define.” One covered things unpleasant to the senses, the other loud noises, he said.

• County commissioners toured the Special Events Center after Tuesday’s meeting. Randy Kamradt, project supervisor, said the center is 85 percent complete with an estimated completion date of late August. Commissioner Albin Smith said he was impressed with the facility.