John Ross Ferrara / Wednesday, July 21 @ 2:15 p.m. / Local Government
Curry Board of Commissioners Considers Ordinance That Would Prevent Outside Departments From Dipping Into Road Fund Reserve If It Drops to $20 Million
At today’s meeting, the Curry County Board of Commissioners discussed the possibility of developing an ordinance that would cap the spending of County Road Department reserve funds for non-road department purposes if the fund drops to $20 million.
The reserve fund, which currently holds approximately $29 million, has been used by various county departments to help balance budget shortfalls throughout the years. Last month, the county approved a budget for the next fiscal year that used $2.2 million in road department reserves to balance the budget of the Curry County Sheriff’s Office, among other departments.
If no action is taken, the reserve fund is expected to drop to $20 million within four or five years. If that were to happen, County Roadmaster Richard Christensen told the Outpost that the county would struggle to fund its emergency road projects. In the past, these emergency projects have mostly been reimbursed by federal and state agencies thanks to the county’s ability to initially pay for the projects using the reserve funds. Without the reserves, Christensen said, these projects can’t be completed.
While Commissioners John Herzog and Chris Paasch expressed interest in continuing the discussion, both voted not to begin the ordinance process at today’s meeting.
“I’m not going to vote [to] start the process right now,” Herzog said. “I like this as a discussion item and we can keep talking about it. I’m really anxious to get the [sheriff’s office] and city police forces together [to discuss the issue], but I’m not ready to put this into an ordinance at this juncture.”
Commissioner Court Boice, who voted in favor of starting the ordinance process, put forth a warning to Curry County voters before the motion failed to carry.
“I’m gonna conclude with this — as commissioner Pasch says — it's not just law enforcement [that’s dipping into the reserve fund],” Boice said. “I’m telling the citizens: Anybody that thinks that we have really cut spending here in a responsible way, I’m gonna emphasize that that has not happened. I believe that we’re not taking tough action here.”