During the county commission meeting Thursday, Heinfeld, Meech and Co. presented the county’s fiscal year 2013 audit report. The report was deemed to be an “unbiased audit” and “the best opinion you can get” by the firm’s representative.
Commissioner Smiley Wooton said the positive report made him proud to be part of a county that tended to business as it had.
Though the report reveals a shrinking budget, spending cuts and other conservative financial decisions were made to keep the budget in line.
The county spent 17 percent less — nearly $6.3 million — than last year.
Most cuts were made to general government, health and welfare budgets, as the county received less revenue from investment income, and the state and federal government.
The county received $28.3 million in revenue — $3 million less than in 2012. Total spending was $30.7 million, compared to $37 million in 2012.
“The numbers are what they are, and it makes me proud to be a part of this group,” Wooton said.
Commissioner Greg Nibert pointed out that the commission would continue to be challenged with some issues in upcoming years funding current projects that are under way. The corrections center expansion and road projects will be a challenge to fund in the future, he said.
“We’re thankful it’s not just a rosy picture, but an honest picture,” Nibert said. “The audit is an honest picture of where we’re at.”
Chaves County was one of only three counties to receive an outstanding audit, said Commission Chairman James Duffey.
Chaves County Sheriff Rob Coon also announced three promotions to commissioners.
“If we get one every three to four years in promotion, we’re lucky,” Coon said. “It’s probably the most we’ve ever promoted in one week, at one time.”
After Chief Deputy Pat Jennings retired recently, the department had a need to promote a lieutenant and sergeants.
Sgt. Mike Harrington, a specialist in providing “active shooter” training to area organizations and schools, was promoted to lieutenant. He will now oversee investigations and the patrol division, working with deputies in the field.
James Mason and Doug Perham were promoted to sergeants.
“Our sergeant test is very competitive,” Coon said.
The written exam is similar to that taken by the New Mexico State Police. Supervisors from neighboring departments also evaluate the candidates.
Mason will be a night-shift sergeant.
Perham, who is an expert in the field of Internet Crimes against Children, will remain in the investigative field and oversee detectives.
“He can hunt down these child predators,” Coon said. “I couldn’t stand to put him out in the field and let that go.”
Coon said with the small department, deputies rarely get an opportunity to move up, he said.
“I’m very proud of these individuals,” Coon told commissioners.
Commissioner Robert Corn congratulated them.
“They’re a good bunch,” Corn said. “I got to work with these guys as a judge. They were outstanding officers back then.”
In other action, commissioners approved a contract for the J.O.Y. Center to receive emergency funding for repairs. The county expects to make an additional request for $20,000 July 1 to finish what can’t be done with the nearly $10,000 received this month.
Sierra Volunteer Fire Department will purchase a new Class A fire engine for $365,000 after commissioners approved the request to seek a $265,000, 10-year loan. The county received $100,000 grant to use as leverage.