Commissioners to give county manager budget guidance

Sharna Johnson

In a break from tradition, Curry County Commissioners will host a budget workshop during a special meeting Thursday to hear the needs and wishes of department heads and elected officials for the coming fiscal year.

After hearing the requests, commissioners are expected to give the county manager guidance on which items will be budgeted for the coming year.

In past years the county manager has reviewed requests for capital outlay and added positions and decided if they go into the budget for commission consideration.

This year, Lance Pyle said the commission wanted to hear the requests presented so they can give input.

“We have a very active commission and we have very limited funds available,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough decision on what’s going to be included in the budget, so I’m looking for some direction on what they want to see included in there.”

The meeting is planned for 9 a.m. in the Clovis-Carver Library’s north annex.

The preliminary budget, still being drafted, is expected to be voted on by the commission May 24 so it can meet the state’s deadline of May 31.

Commissioners can still make changes to the budget up to July 31, the deadline by which it must be filed with the state.

In a memo included in commissioners meeting packets, Pyle said departments are collectively requesting $1.1 million in capital outlay items and more than $177,000 to create new positions.

Pyle also mentioned in his memo that county tax revenues are expected to increase by more than $461,000, but $245,000 of it will replace lost or reduced state funding.

Among requests: An additional officer for the juvenile detention center; two new deputies, three patrol vehicles and two transport vehicles for the sheriff’s office; an additional IT staff member; a new phone system and network upgrades; kitchen upgrades for the jail and two to three vehicles in the road department.

According to Finance Manager Mark Lansford, capital outlay requests approved for the current budget were $368,433, not including later purchases and acquisitions.

Among unbudgeted expenditures was approximately $900,000 spent to buy the postal building at 417 Gidding St. and three properties near the courthouse.

This year the commission also added nine positions at the jail at an approximate cost of $300,000, Lansford said.

Pyle said overall — with the exception of the jail and sheriff’s office — departments have cut in line with his directive they reduce their budgets by 1 to 3 percent.

“We cut budgets last year and they’ve cut them again this year,” he said.

The jail, he said in his memo, needs more money for out-of-county inmate housing and the sheriff’s office for fuel, and both expect to see a 15 percent increase in liability insurance.

Pyle said rising expenses for those two departments are expected because of the nature of what they do.

“Public safety is a big need for our community, (the increases are) based on the economy. With the cost of gas you’re going to have to budget for increases,” he said.

Though he is still working on it, Lansford said the operating budget will be between $11.4 and $11.8 million, which is in line with projections made last year.

“I think when all the cows come home that’s pretty close,” he said.

While Lansford said requests are higher than normal, the county has a lot of items that are aging and need replacement, from vehicles to “our facility here that we live and breath and work in, is fairly old.”

Also during the meeting, commissioners are expected to:

• Consider an eight-item consent agenda including: A bid for a new camera system at the juvenile detention center; a donation of caliche; resurfacing of parking lots at 816 and 818 Main Street; Placement of the District Judge Teddy Hartley on the county’s jail committee.

• Hear a presentation on a paperless system by Granicus to digitize meetings and related documents.