By Kevin Wilson

Roosevelt commission approves final budget


August 2, 2020

PORTALES — The state giveth, but the state — mandateth? — much more.

The Roosevelt County Commission discussed both of those in a Friday meeting that included approval of the final budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

County Manager Amber Hamilton gave the three commissioners attending — Paul Grider, Tina Dixon and Dennis Lopez — some positive news following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Thursday announcement that largely renewed existing public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of those new state directives offer guidance that will allow youth livestock shows in New Mexico, noting, “Livestock projects are offered through 4-H and Future Farmers of America to teach youth responsibility and animal husbandry.”

That is good news for Curry County, which will get guidelines for the shows it approved to hold in the second week of August. It’s also good news for Roosevelt County, which will hold its own shows in the third week of August.

The allowance made sense to Hamilton, who noted, “These kids are small business owners.”

However, a state mandate from a few weeks ago will mean a $54,000 addition to the county budget. Senate Bill 8, passed during the June special session, required body cameras for all law enforcement officers and increased file storage requirements.

Lt. Javier Sanchez of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office said the department has to replace its current fleet of cameras to align with state requirements, and have the infrastructure in place by Oct. 5 — 90 days following the bill’s passage.

Sanchez said a benefit of the cameras he recommended was their ability to keep a 24-hour video loop. Deputies will still have to push a button to mark the beginning and end of a public interaction, but Sanchez said the loop provides a fallback in case it slips the deputy’s mind or the button is inadvertently pressed.

Also, Sanchez said, the software includes redaction capabilities should there be a need to protect a citizen’s private information.

With the additional camera expense, the county anticipates expenditures of about $12.48 million, about a 25% drop from the prior year. The budget doesn’t include increases for any departments, and reflects an anticipated 15% revenue drop.

“We’re all very fortunate to have jobs,” Hamilton said, “and we are dealing with very uncertain times.”

In other business at the commission meeting:

• Extension Agent Patrick Kircher addressed the commission for the first time since the pandemic began.

Kircher said the office was rolling along just fine before the pandemic, but “it’s been a major adjustment for us as it has been for you guys.”

Kircher said he didn’t do much social media work before current conditions forced his hand, but he’s been pleasantly surprised to see information has reached 18,000 people.

• Detention Center Administrator Justin Porter said the facility was down an average of 10 inmates a day in 2019-20, with about 65 compared to 75 in 2018-19.

Porter noted the smaller amount was largely from a concerted effort started in March to stress citations and jail fewer people during a pandemic. An average month went from 105 bookings to 60, Porter said.

The jail had 963 bookings for the year, had 49 transfers to the Department of Corrections and 2,527 inmate days for prisoners from other counties.

• Hamilton noted the county was behind state response rates on the census. The state has a 52.7% response rate, compared to 48.9% for the county. Rates range from 52.5% in Elida to 38.3% in Floyd.

“It’s not for a lack of knowledge,” Hamilton said, noting numerous efforts at raising awareness. She noted every person counted in the census means about $3,750 in money for various uses and the areas with the highest counts get more representation in Santa Fe.

• The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 11.


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