Finance manager says Curry County fiscally sound

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Curry County Finance Manager Mark Lansford told county commissioners Friday the county is in good financial shape.

The told the commission the county has built up its cash reserves to $5.7 million in the last three years, which consists of $3.3 million in surplus and $2.4 million — a figure based on the total budget — being held in reserve as required by state statute.

“To me that reflects the county operation is fiscally sound, is fiscally healthy,” Lansford said during the special meeting.

“It’s the department heads and the elected officials watching their budgets. It’s a team effort.”

The operating budget recommended was $10.5 million, an increase of 13 percent from last year’s at $9.3 million, he told commissioners.

Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the budget after an approximately 30 minute presentation from Lansford.

Lansford said the budget accounts for an anticipated 5 to 6 percent drop in gross receipts tax tied to fluctuations at Cannon Air Force Base, economic factors and population trends.

Budget revenue, which consists of about 35 percent gross receipts tax, 52 percent property tax and 13 percent service fees and miscellaneous, is expected to be about $425,000 less than last year, he said.

Also included in the budget were employee pay raises, which averaged 4 percent but did not exceed 5 percent, in keeping with Commission dictates, Lansford said.

“This is great what we’ve done,” Commissioner Robert Sandoval said, asking Lansford what his predictions were for the coming year and its fiscal health for the county.

Lansford said he is an optimist.

“The big unknown is the events center. … Can we afford to operate it? I believe we can,” he said, noting everything is dependent on the economic state of the area and that agriculture drives the area.

“We’ve spent a lot of money and a lot of (state funding) requests on the Special Events Center (this year). … Next year (we can) lobby for more funds for roads,” he said.

• For an audio of the meeting including the county finance manager’s report to commissioners, click the audio link at the top right of this story.