County officials plan budget, hear requests

Tony Parra

The Roosevelt County Commission officials went through a budget hearing Tuesday afternoon during a special session, to review each department’s request and the Sheriff’s Department and the Detention Center stressed their need for some of the highest budget increases.
Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said Tuesday’s special session was the first of three budget meetings planned.
“This (budget hearing) is the first step in finalizing a budget,” Hardin said. “We’ll have a another whole budget meeting in May. They (department heads) make their requests in this meeting and there are usually cuts in several areas to come close to budget in the next meetings.”
The budget will be finalized during a meeting in June.
Sheriff Department officials are requesting $400,000 and last year they requested $333,752, a 20 percent hike. The proposed total budget for the department is $887,884 and last year it was $720,012, a 23 percent jump. Roosevelt County Sheriff Tom Gossett wants to add two additional deputies to the force to bring the number to 17.
“There are areas to the south we can’t get to,” Gossett said. “I do not have a midnight shift. Since I took over as sheriff, I have lost five deputies. I have lost some because of low wages. The Portales Police department has incentive bonuses for attending educational programs, and we don’t. The pay is lower than it is for Curry County deputy sheriffs.”
Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator Jesse Luera is requesting budget increases for different areas to help compensate for the high number of inmates: Care of prisoners from $140,000 to $475,000 (239 percent) and feeding prisoners from $100,000 to $140,000 (40 percent).
Luera said the RCDC currently has 55 inmates and an additional 10 inmates housed in another county. Luera said the number has been between 11 and 16 over the capacity in a previous meeting.
The commissioners could approve the addition of a temporary facility from Marine Leasing during the year.
“If we try to keep as many as we can, the costs will go up,” Luera said. “The adjustment is because we could have a portable facility during the year.”
The constant throughout all of the budget requests is an increase in fuel costs. The Road Department requested $65,000, up 30 percent from last year’s $50,000. Many department officials attributed the increase to increase travel to training sessions and fuel costs.