By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Commissioners unanimously passed department budget cuts Tuesday at the advice of County Manager Lance Pyle, who said the money is needed to cover budget shortfalls.
Cuts totaling $140,050 are intended to compensate for the loss of state money the county didn’t qualify for this year because of conflicting population counts.
Pyle said the cuts were needed to cover a $184,000 bill due in June for a judicial complex special needs analysis and a more than $140,000 purchase of chairs for the special events center. Also, the detention center is about $100,000 over budget.
“We’ve got to come up with the money to cover that,” Pyle told commissioners.
Pyle said money being cut from department budgets is, in most cases, cash freed by changed needs or priorities or was budgeted at higher estimates than actually needed.
He said he met with elected officials and department heads to work out a plan so the cuts would be most productive and efficient.
The Curry County Sheriff’s Office received the largest cut, losing $36,000, including some intended for a vehicle, new equipment, vehicle repairs and other items.
The vehicle was intended for a deputy position the sheriff’s office didn’t receive authorization and money to fill, Pyle said.
Sheriff Matt Murray said his office was glad to help correct the shortfall.
“I don’t have a problem with it. It’s not stretching my budget,” he told commissioners.
“Everything’s looking good; we’re fully staffed. Everything’s going fine budget-wise.”
Commissioners Caleb Chandler and Bobby Sandoval commended elected officials and department heads for working together to solve the issue.
Acknowledging it is hard to make cuts, Sandoval said the county is still doing well considering the economic environment.
“Probably every other county in the state of New Mexico would trade places with us in a second,” he said.
In other business commissioners:
• Heard an update on renovations and improvements at La Casa. Construction is about 30 days from completion and the project is expected to finish under budget, according to Project Manager Randy Kamradt.
• Heard a presentation on the Joint Land Use Study, a cooperative land-use planning effort between Cannon Air Force Base and surrounding communities. Kit Roupe, project manager, told commissioners the process will be a publicly transparent one with hearings held, a web site and brochures circulated to help educate the community on what is being done.
• Approved a ordinance regarding a franchise agreement with Southwestern Public Service Company, allowing it right of way and privilege in the county.