Billy Garrett has been Dona Ana County chair two months. Already, he has a big challenge ahead.
“We’re gonna have some hard decisions and they’re gonna be coming up in the future.”
The county needs $15.6 million to balance its budget for the fiscal year.
There are ten rows of chairs in the county chambers. If each row represented a million dollars, it still wouldn’t add up to the more than 15 million dollars the county says it needs.
It’s on the agenda this time as policy and capital priorities – it won’t be the last time.
“We have a situation where we’re gonna have to make cuts.”
Commissioner for district 3, Ben Rawson likes the idea of small, specific cuts.
“We’re gonna have to make precise cuts…we need to be ready to take those hard decisions.”
A decision Rawson and Garrett thought would be an easy one was cutting county vacation by two days a year. They say it would save $100,000.
“It’s not substantial, but that is a small thing we need to do…not acceptable to me.”
They were the only two. The commission voted it down.
“By a 3-2 vote, the decision was made that we would have a 14-day vacation schedule…with the exception of the spring holiday was removed.”
Although commissioner Rawson doesn’t favor raising taxes, saying it once-and-for-all isn’t easy.
You won’t vote for any sort of tax increase if it comes up?
“I’m not sure I’m ready to make that statement…where are we spending this additional money and is it needed?
Chair Garrett knows the shortfall won’t be coming off the agenda soon…so it’s a concern for him that won’t be going away.
“We had an opportunity to save about $100,000…these are the kinds of things we are going to have to struggle with.”