Opinion on sheriff’s consultant contract sought

By Robin Fornoff

Curry County Commissioner Wendell Bostwick has asked for an attorney general opinion on a $36,000 a year private consultant contract awarded Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray to supervise jail operations.

“A timetable has not been set for this matter, however, a thorough effort is being made to render a decision as quickly as possible,” AG Gary King’s spokesperson Lynn Southard said Friday.opinion-contract

Although Southard didn’t indicate who asked for the opinion, state Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales said he forwarded a request to King sent to him by a Curry County commissioner.

Bostwick acknowledged late Friday that he made the request.

Murray said via email Saturday that he wasn’t aware of the request for the opinion. He also said “ my contract has to do with my consulting business and the County. It is separate from the Sheriff position or the Sheriff’s Office.”

Bostwick questioned the contract when it was put to a vote and approved May 21, saying it seemed to be an attempt to thwart state laws that set the sheriff’s salary at about $53,000 a year and other laws that specify the sheriff is responsible for running the jail.

The contract was approved on a 3-1 vote with Bostwick voting against and Tim Ashley abstaining. County Attorney Steve Doerr said at the time the contract was not an increase to the sheriff’s salary but a monthly additional amount providing consulting services.