County says no to 20-year deputy retirement plan

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

In a meeting Tuesday morning, the Roosevelt County Commissioners did not pass a motion for a 20-year retirement plan for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department deputies.
Instead the deputies will still have a 25-year retirement plan.
County Commissioner Dennis Lopez made a motion to grant the sheriff’s department a 20-year plan, however, county commissioner Tom Clark said the reason the motion died was his opposition to spending money.
“I’m not opposed to a 20-year retirement plan, I’m just opposed to spending money,” Clark said. “We have to draw the line somewhere.”
Clark stressed concern to continue to increase the budget when the county is having trouble balancing the budget. Commissioner Paul Grider agreed.
“I only ask the possibility to reconsider the retirement plan,” Tom Gossett, Roosevelt County Sheriff, said after the motion died. “We are still unable to attract qualified candidates. We need good (working) conditions. The 20-year retirement plan and incentives would attract qualified candidates. Our success rate in attracting candidates is low.”
Gossett said there are still two deputy positions which need to be filled.
Lopez pointed out how stressful law enforcement and fire department jobs can be; however, the motion was not reconsidered. Hardin said 16 counties in New Mexico have a 20-year retirement plan in place for law enforcement.
If the 20-year plan had been approved, Hardin said it would have approximately a $12,000 impact on the county budget. However, the financial impact would escalate in the future if salary increases were granted to the deputies in relation to the percentage increase of their salary. Rick Short, sheriff department sergeant, said the Portales Police Department has a 20-year retirment plan in place.
l County commissioners also approved the motion to pay $25,000 to Mike Miller for his lobbying efforts. The $25,000 will be for a full year. The motion was passed 4-1.
The county contracted Miller to lobby during the 2005 New Mexico legislative session. Miller worked as a lobbyist for the county for $12,500 for his work in the 2005 legislation.
Miller’s proposal means that he will again lobby during the legislative session. He will also follow-up with the commission and county administrator, attend legislative committee meetings, meet with federal legislators on behalf of issues endorsed by the county throughout the year.
Grider asked about the impact Miller’s lobbying efforts has had in bringing in money to the county. Hardin said during one year before Miller was hired the county received $18,000 in capital outlay money. She said in the past two years the county has received more than $500,000 from capital outlay with the help of Miller. Miller stressed, however, it is the senators and representatives of Roosevelt County who obtain the money.
Clark, who opposed the motion, said Miller does a good job of lobbying and he doesn’t deny the county receives money from capital outlay, but he questions whether the county can receive federal funding through Miller’s lobbying efforts.
“I don’t see where we can get the bang for the buck,” Clark said. “I question the need year-long. I agree there’s going to be some issues (outside of the legislative session). We have representatives and our county manager who are more than capable of handling these issues.”