Lobbyist says county road funds in limbo

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Roosevelt County commissioners heard a report Tuesday from local lobbyist Michael Miller on the 2008 Legislative Session during its regular meeting.

Miller told commissioners that nearly a half million dollars in road money for Roosevelt County in a capital outlay bill that was vetoed last week by the governor is back on his desk awaiting his signature in the form of a nearly identical bill passed the next day by lawmakers.

The governor has 20 days from the end of the session to sign the bill. Miller said with talk of the governor using the capital outlay bill as leverage to get legislators back to Santa Fe in a special session to address his health care bill, which went unpassed, no one is sure what the bill’s fate will be.

Roosevelt County funding in the measure contains includes $495,000 in road improvements, $55,000 for sheriff’s department equipment and $35,000 for Roosevelt General Hospital’s emergency room and trauma center. With other governmental authorities’ requests, the total for Roosevelt County funding in the bill is $2.229 million.

Miller warned commissioners that capital outlay funding was going to become harder to obtain in future sessions. He pointed out that this year’s capital outlay requests OK’d by the legislature was $347 million, down from $750 million last year. He said the revenue outlook calls for things to be tighter next year.

“Senate Finance (Committee) didn’t even meet the last week of the session,” Miller said as an example of the belt tightening in Santa Fe. “They’d done their budget and there was no money left.”

Miller also reported that a bill passed to intercept the county’s indigent fund revenue stream would not have an adverse affect on the county. It was approved as a stop-gap, with a one year sunset to try and improve the flow of funds to the federal level in the program.

“So, there’s really no change to the indigent (fund),” Commissioner Gene Creighton asked?

“The easy answer to that is no,” Miller replied.

In other business commissioners:
• Awarded a bid for chip seal aggregate to low bidder Griego Construction for $13.20 a ton.

• Approved a joint powers agreement with Otero County to house their prisoners.

• Approved implementation by county administrators of a loss prevention policy manual.