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1995 Archives

September 6, 1995

Commissioners OK budget by 3-2 vote

Staff Writer
In a 3-2 vote following a lengthy discussion, Reeves County
Commissioners agreed to adopt an amended final proposed
budget for 1996 with no tax increase.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Dr. W.J. Bang and Precinct 3
Commissioner Herman Tarin voted against their opinions and
concerns about the abolishment of the salary for Reeves
County Court At-Law Judge Lee Green.

Commissioners Precinct 1 Lupe Garcia and Precinct 4 Bernardo
Martinez voted to adopt the amended proposed budget "as is"
with County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo casting the deciding vote
for approval.

Galindo drew up the budget with $920,000 in cuts he said
were needed to cut into a deficit he put at nearly $1
million, while maintaining the current 57.9 cent property
tax rate per $100 valuation.

Under Galindo's plan, the court-at-law budget was cut 85
percent, from $104,046.76 to a proposed $15,000, for 1996.

"My concern is that if the judge decides to sue," said
Commissioner Precinct 2 W.J. Bang. "We need to look at his
position like an office not an individual.

"If you want to keep Green then it will require a tax
increase and I am totally against a tax increase," said
Galindo. Just over half of the court-at-law's fiscal 1995
budget went to Green's salary of $53,000.

"My suggestion had been to set his salary at $32,000 the
same as the other elected official," said County ATtorney
Bill Weinacht. "That was my proposal, to avoid further

Weinacht also stated that it was a possibility that Green
would decide to sue the county and that Roddy Harrison had
agreed to represent the county if this occurred.

"I don't know what the legal effect will be and that's why
Harrison has agreed to represent the county," he said. "I
don't have anything against Judge Green, I have to work with
him and don't want to get involved in this dispute."

Green stated this morning that he hasn't had time to review
anything so therefore, doesn't know if he will pursue legal
litigation against the county.

"I haven't decided yet what to do, I really haven't had the
time to do so," said Green. "I do remember the case in Ector
County where that judge won, but it's a little different
than this."

Ector County lost a court case last year when commissioners
attempted to cut the salaries of two of its judges,
resulting in a lawsuit in which the salaries were restored.

Green also stated that he hasn't consulted with other
lawyers to get their input. "I still have until the
beginning of the year to do something," he said.

"If he goes back and sues the county then he's hurting the
very people who put him in office," said Galindo.

"But there's a chance that we might lose," said Bang.

"We also have to listen to the people and what they want and
it seems that here are some people out there who want to
keep him," said Tarin. "I also don't want us to go through a

"We as a local government just can't afford to pay for this
anymore," said Galindo. "If we do keep him it will require a
tax increase and my opinion has been from the very beginning
that we don't need two judges."

Several suggestions from spectators on other ways to cut the
budget were heard, including a suggestion by a concerned
citizen that commissioners cut their own salaries.

Commissioners voted to cut their salaries from $22,800 to
12,000 in 1992, but restored the cut the following year. A
total of $37,375 was allotted to each commissioner in the
fiscal 1996 budget, the same amount as a year ago.

"You voted this individuals into office at the salary they
are making now, if you wanted them to earn a nickel or
whatever you should have stated that at the polls," said

The judge went on to state that 143rd District Court Judge
Bob Parks already does some of the court-at-law work in Ward
County that Green handles here and his judicial district
also includes Reeves County. "We're already paying him for
this service, because it's based on population," he said.

"I will be ready to assume the duties of the county
court-at-law judge," Galindo said. "If he chooses not to
perform, I will be ready to assume the role."

The county court of Reeves County and its county judge have
juvenile jurisdiction as provided by Sec. 26-0426 of the
Texas Government Code, but has no other probate, criminal or
civil jurisdiction.

Galindo had said earlier he would handle all juvenile cases,
while Judge Parks would take care of the civil, probate and
criminal cases.

"Any elected officials has five days to file a grievance
report with the head of the grievance committee," said
County Auditor Lynn Owens.

Judges of court, however, are exempt from this procedure, so
that County Court-At-Law Judge Lee Green will be unable to
file this grievance report, but must take his compliant, if
there is one, to District Court.

In looking at the commissioners court salaries, several
spectators expressed their opinions on the amount the
elected officials are currently getting paid.

One citizen expressed her concern over the amount of travel
expense commissioners are currently allotted.

"Where do you go and how do you travel? asked Emily
Fernandes, referring to the $4,800 per year awarded to each
commissioner in their $37,375 budgets. "How can you possibly
spend so much money?"

"As for me, I have an itinerary of all the travel and
seminars and places that I have to attend, and everyone is
welcome to look at it any time," said Galindo. "As for the
commissioners, you would have to pose that question to them."

commissioner Garcia said his travel money is spent on
continuing education and seminars which are required by law.

"I've got a log book, mileage sheet, telephone," said
Commissioner Tarin. "I've got a lot of miles to cover, even
after work."

Tarin resides in Balmorhea and travels back and forth to
Pecos for meetings and any other county business that needs
attending to.

"Why don't you negotiate a contract with the LEC (the county
detention center) to bring some of that revenue over here to
the county," said audience member Camilo Evaro.

"We're currently working on trying to do something about
that," said County Attorney Bill Weinacht. Currently, the
U.S. Bureau of prisons, which supplies inmates to the
county-run detention center, does not allow surplus funds
from there to be used in other parts of the county's budget.

On the salary question, Tarin said, "I will take a cut in my
salary because it is the right thing to do, but not because
the city council says we have to do that before they will
help us. That's not right."

Tarin's remark came after an earlier discussion with Town of
Pecos City Councilman Randy Graham, who had suggested that
commissioners take a cut in pay.

Galindo had previously met with city officials and asked
their help in taking over the civic center, parks and county
golf course.

"Don't shift all the blame on to us," Graham said. "I'm
talking about salaries, why don't you take a cut in pay
also, you keep talking about luxuries."

"We have a lot of things we need to take care of also and we
haven't asked the county for help," said Graham. "And to say
that you're taking the golf course from the city, isn't true

"We're talking about municipal services that the county has
carried all this time," said Galindo. "You want a reduction
of services because of your dislike for a person on this
court," he said.

"The golf course didn't belong to the city," said Graham.
"It first belonged to the country club, then to the housing
authority and then to the city."

"What I'm asking you is to share 50 percent of this, just
like we share 50 percent of the fire department," said

"I can't see subsidizing the commissioners salary and that's
what it amounts to," said Graham.

I referring to the Town of Pecos City council meeting of
January 1984, the city agreed in a unanimous decision to
give the golf course, ball parks and rodeo arena and civic
center to Reeves County.

At that time councilman Mike Burkholder made a motion to
accept the offer from the county to take over these
entities. All deeds were then turned over to the county,
whose financial situation was considered better than that of
the city in 1984.

Town of Pecos City Council is considering a two cent tax cut
this year, but council members said future multi-million
dollar expenditures for the city's new waterfield and
landfill made them wary of taking back any functions from
the county.

In other items in the county's proposed budget, the Civic
Center and Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena will be funded through
the bed tax and operated by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce.

Galindo's budget also reduced the sheriff's office budget to
$1.3 million from $1.8 million, but restored $30,000 to the
sheriff's office travel budget.

The Reeves County Detention Center Budget proposal the Road
and Bridges Department budgets were agreed upon as proposed.

Cuts in fire budget may hurt rural areas

Staff Writer
For more than a decade the Town of Pecos City and Reeves
County agreed to equally split the city's fire department
expenses. However on Tuesday, the county officials opted to
lower their financial obligation to the fire department by
about 70 percent, as part of the proposed fiscal 1996 budget
cuts proposed by Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo.

On a 3-2 vote by the court, Reeves County Commissioners and
Glaindo voted to decrease their Pecos fire contract
commitment from $84,805 to $25,000 and the Toyah contract
from $5,000 to $2,500, while Blamorhea's fire budget was
maintained at its fiscal 1995 level.

Toyah has three fire trucks and have just installed fire
extinguishers, according to Toyah Mayor Charlotte Waight.

"We're pretty well outfitted with everything we need and we
agreed to this cut," said Waight. "We're meeting the code
right now and we can get along with what we have."

In an earlier version of the proposed budget, the county's
portion of Fire Marshall Jack Brookshire's salary was cut to
zero. But his pay was reinstated later on after hearing from
Brookshire and several concerned citizens.

"If you don't want to pay me the $200 a month you'll have to
hire somebody to do it full time," said Brookshire, who is
also paid by the city.

Brookshire not only investigates fires and conducts
investigations, but inspects homes and buildings for fire

Prior to their decisions, Fire Chief Doug Cox told
commissioners during Tuesday's meeting that the proposed
cuts were "not sufficient to maintain fire protection within
the county." He later noted that fuel prices and vehicle
upkeep expenses are rising every year.

Cox added that insurance rates for rural residents may
increase because of the lack of fire protection, though
Galindo replied that the Texas Farm Bureau verified that
insurance rates would not increase simply because of the
lack of fire protection. He said the mere rural status
itself itself would confer the raise in insurance rates to
county residents.

Cox stood his ground and noted that several other factors
would in fact affect the rates.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Herman Tarin said the court still
had plenty of time to decide on the county's share to the
fire department, but Cox said that the city will be adopting
their budget soon and in order for them to meet the county's
share, they would have to set an amount.

Galindo said that per his perception, he was hoping that the
city could help the situation by perhaps increasing their
amount towards the fire department.

Cox proposed the department could make some cuts, but not
the entire $59,805 amount that Galindo had proposed
initially. For instance, Cox noted, that their annual
accrual budget for a new fire truck.

Galindo explained that the decreased amount was based on the
fact that there are about 2,000 rural residents - who are
not served as well as city residents.

"I'm not sure the county is served as well as the city for
some of the amount of money that we're paying," added County
Attorney Bill Weinacht.

Cox answered that the distance and time factor played an
important part in this matter.

Then it would be virtually impossible because of this," said
Weinacht, of the ability of the fire department to improve
its protection for rural residents.

"But it's (some protection) better than one at all," said

"The only ones that will suffer from this (proposed cuts),"
said Cox, "will be the people that live outside the city

Tarin told the audience and the court that he has not
received any calls from concerned citizens about the fire
contract cuts since Galindo proposed his recommended budget.

Rural resident Linda Gholson told the court that "possibly"
the reason for the lack of phone calls from concerned,
out-of-city residents was because rural residents could "not
possibly believe" that county officials would deny them fire

Galindo noted that in past years the county's commitment to
the fire department used in "somewhere in the range of
$25,000 to $30,000."

County Auditor Lynn Owens said that was correct, but that
was when area, well-to-do oil companies used to pay for
their fire protection in terms of tax dollars.

He went on to note that area ranchers' livelihoods depends
on pastureland and that the fire department does in fact
save some of it during brush fires.

The big concern now, after the court agreed on the budget
cuts is, as Galindo mentioned during the court session, is
"do they (fire department) have legal authority not to

Weinacht stated that it depended on the contractual
agreement, "it is not a legal solution, but a political one."

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