Curry County Commissioners have rejected the state’s plan to help put the county on a path to fiscal stability. The Commissioners say they can’t support spending $75,000 to pay for the committee that would work out a restructuring plan.
County Chair David Itzen says Commissioners aren’t denying the urgency of the situation. Round after round of layoffs have gutted basic services like public safety and the health department. He appreciates the Legislature passed bills giving the county tools to renegotiate contracts and call emergency tax votes. But the sticking point, he says, was a provision calling for the state and the county to each kick in $75,000 to support a fiscal committee that would hash out fiscal alternatives.
Itzen explained, “To contemplate taking that amount of money when we’re short patrol officers is inconceivable.”
Instead, the county passed a resolution to, as Commissioners put it, “self-declare a financial emergency.” The county still hopes the state will consider giving the county some help.
State Representative Bruce Hanna co-chaired the legislative group that came up with the plan for the fiscal committee. He says if the county won’t declare fiscal emergency, it’s difficult to say what more the Legislature could do. A spokesman for the governor’s office did not return requests for comment.