County reports solid financial footing entering 2020-21


Last updated 7/21/2020 at 4:07pm

CLOVIS — The Curry County Commission received a slate of good news on the financial front Tuesday, with a quick rundown of the final quarter of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

County Finance Director Carol Pipes told commissioners in the virtual meeting that the county had $19.635 million between general fund dollars and other investments.

Pipes noted gross tax receipts revenues were down 1.8% while property tax revenues were up 7.8%. While some departments had to request increases in the quarter due to salary updates, Pipes said, all county departments deserved credit for keeping expenses down.

Commissioner Seth Martin half-jokingly asked if there was any way Santa Fe could come for that money.

Certification of the quarter, plus approval of the capital asset inventory later in the meeting, were required before the commission could approve the 2020-21 budget. The budget is expected to be the main focus of a special commission meeting set for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

• In his report for June, Curry County Adult Detention Center Administrator Mark Gallegos reported several items favorable to commissioners.

Gallegos noted the center has had no positive COVID-19 tests so far, with 257 detainees tested and 30 of those tests pending. There have been 140 staff tests representative of about 15% tested per week; Gallegos said the state requires at least 5% of staff be tested weekly.

The new video visitation system had 87 uses by inmates in the last two weeks of June, and the jail did oversee 40 court appointments by video and more than 100 attorney phone calls.

The center had about eight hours of overtime for the month and hoped to have two vacancies filled next week.

Commissioner Chet Spear said he was thoroughly impressed but limited his comments to the COVID-19 procedures and staff retention. Spear said it was “nothing short of outstanding” to have no positive COVID-19 cases so far.

• The commission approved a budget for the Curry County Events Center, with the caveat several budget modifications would come back to the commission when staff had a better idea of where they stood on hosting events in coming months.

• Commissioner Bobby Sandoval noted Curry County had 18 COVID-19 cases Monday and said the area has to get on the same page about wearing masks.

“(Businesses) are closing because we keep getting more and more cases,” Sandoval said. “If we don’t start wearing masks, the only people we have to blame are each other.”

Sandoval said he doesn’t like the mask measure, but he didn’t like having to drink castor oil as a kid either.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, the county had 316 confirmed cases and 94 recoveries.

• Spear and Martin both shared concerns about BNSF Railway’s plans to increase train speeds to 70 mph inside city limits, and said the county and city needed to work together to convince the company to keep speeds where they are.

Martin, contacted by The News after the meeting, wasn’t sure about the current speed limit. However, he touched base with an engineer he knew there and was told the limit was 50 mph in the city. Clovis Traffic Safety Director Kevin Musick deferred specific questions to BNSF, but said the train speed limits depend on several factors, including the type and size of train and whether it’s carrying passengers or specific amounts or types of freight.

Martin said when such speed increases happened in Hereford, traffic fatalities soon followed and he didn’t want that to repeat itself in Clovis.

• In his report, County Manager Lance Pyle said he was working on a partnership with Clovis Community College for training courses that could reduce county staff reliance on New Mexico State University. A primary benefit, Pyle said, would be replacing Las Cruces trips with trips to and from the CCC campus.

Pyle also commended county staff, particularly the maintenance department, for its sanitation procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No employee has tested positive,” Pyle said. “Very few government entities can say that 4 1/2 months into it.”

• The next meeting is scheduled to be held virtually at 9 a.m. Tuesday.


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