Commission adjusts budget to fund pay increase

By Jack King

Curry County commissioners Tuesday approved a line item budget change that will make it possible to fund a 1 percent pay increase for county employees for one year.
The vote was 3-2.
Commissioners Pete Hulder and Kathrynn Tate voted against the budget cut, following a debate that highlighted an on-going debate about the county budget.
Commission Chairman Tim Ashley asked the commission to reduce funding for a water truck to be used at the county fairgrounds from $30,000 to $10,000 in the fiscal year 2002-2003 budget. By adding the $20,000 gained to $15,705 gained from user fees paid to the County Clerks’ office by a new Clovis title company, the county could gain enough to increase a raise given county employee’s in 2002-2003 budget from 3 percent to 4 percent, he said.
Ashley said County Clerk Mario Trujillo has argued that, due to increases in the cost of insurance, a 3 percent raise will not help lower echelon county employees meet the cost of living.
He and County Commissioner Ed Perales said the county could either obtain a water truck on a rent to purchase plan or charge fairground users for the cost of a water truck.
Tate argued that charging users would make the fairground too expensive and that it should be kept affordable as a service to area families.
Hulder said that the line item change would only pay for the wage increase for one year, while the wage increase would be permanent. Hulder said in effect the employees received a 7 percent raise.
Trujillo said the 3 percent raise employees got in January was for the current fiscal year and that because they received it in January, rather than in July at the beginning of the fiscal year, employees only got the benefit for six month’s.
In other business:
n County Detention Center administrator Don Burdine told the commission the state fire marshal has cited the facility having too many prisoners in some of its cells. The extra prisoners mean some are sleeping on the floor and are depriving prisoners of the amount space each is allotted under state law, he said.
n County Assessor Randy Williams said 71 residents have applied for a 100 percent property tax exemption mandated by the state for disabled veterans. The taxable value of the exemptions mean a loss of about $1.4 million to the city, county and schools.
The loss in taxes to the county will be about $15,387, he said.