County to meet over budget changes

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle is expected to present a revised budget plan today that would allow for 10 additional detention officers at the jail, as some commissioners have requested.

Commissioners are meeting at 9 a.m. in the Commission Room at the courthouse.

During a May 18 meeting in Grady, commissioners voted to have Pyle present a new budget designed to accommodate the addition of the 10 positions, estimated to cost $263,000.

The commission had been set to vote on the positions, but instead voted to revisit it after Commissioner Caleb Chandler suggested Pyle’s budget — which included $432,066 in cuts — was padded. Chandler said Pyle had room to shave excess, and commissioners tabled the item and asked Pyle for a revised budget.

At the meeting, Pyle had said there was not enough money in the budget to accommodate the positions without making cuts elsewhere, possibly to salaries and nonprofit program support.

Additional budget cuts come from the commission, administration, finance department, maintenance, and the offices of the county clerk, treasurer and assessor. The biggest proposed reductions are for the commission, in mileage ($10,000), liability insurance ($15,736), workman’s compensation insurance ($17,038) and insurance deductible changes ($10,000).

Pyle said he would like to submit the preliminary budget, which is due May 31 to the Department of Finance and Administration.

“I still feel like it’s a preliminary budget,” Pyle said. “I feel like we need to send this preliminary budget and work on the final budget (due July 31) over the next two months.”

Additional savings could be reached based on suggestions of leaving the jail administrator ($109,000) and transportation officer ($28,000) positions dark and eliminating a previously approved raise for officials elected in November’s general election ($5,200).

By statute, the raise would be received by five elected officials to be elected in 2010, not by officials who were holding office at the time of the vote.

Positions that would receive the raise are probate judge, sheriff, assessor and commissioners in Districts 1 and 3. Commissioners Bobby Sandoval and Frank Blackburn, who represent those districts and are running unopposed for re-election, have votes on the issue today.

Pyle said the elimination of the elected officials’ raise and leaving the detention center administrator position dark were suggestions made by commissioners.

Clerk Coni Jo Lyman, who would not receive the salary increase, said she hates to see elected officials lose a pay increase.

“That’s a pretty small amount of money that we’re talking about,” she said. “Would you continue to stay with your job if you knew you could never get a raise? These are our careers. To say that we don’t need it, that’s a pretty rough statement.”