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County copes with revenue loss

May 18th, 2017 under Top Stories

By CAMERON DODD

cameron@bigbendnow.com

PRESIDIO — Presidio County will see a loss of almost $230,000 in revenue after three contracts with the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office weren’t renewed.

Most of the projected loss comes from the recently abrogated law enforcement contract with the city of Marfa.

The Presidio County Commissioners Court discussed the revenue loss and its effect on the county’s fiscal year 2017 budget at a special meeting in Presidio on Tuesday.

Three revenue-generating contracts with the sheriff’s office and Presidio County Jail weren’t renewed this year after Sheriff Danny Dominguez failed to renegotiate agreements with representatives of the City of Marfa and Jeff Davis County.

County Auditor Patty Roach shared an analysis of the revenue loss with commissioners. In the analysis, Roach projected the county will be ultimately be short $30,957 for the 2017 fiscal year.

Marfa’s highly publicized decision last week to not renew two long-standing contracts with the Sheriff’s Office will result in almost $200,000 in lost revenue for the county. Marfa’s Law Enforcement contract brought in $180,000 annually for the county’s general fund. Dispatch services for the City of Marfa were another $19,567.

Jeff Davis County’s April decision to send its prisoners to the Hudspeth County Jail rather than the Presidio County Jail also carries a $40,000 revenue loss for Presidio County’s jail fund.

The sheriff’s office has already laid off three deputies. In the four and half months remaining the fiscal year, which ends September 30, this will save the county $55,677 on salaries, insurance and other benefits.

The revenue loss from the Jeff Davis County inmate contract is less than originally projected, Roach told the commissioners, because Jeff Davis County has been paying fees for the first part of this fiscal year.

“This year, we’ve brought in about $24,000 worth of funds from them,” Roach said. “But we don’t expect to see any more going forward unless they change their minds.”

The county could potentially make up lost jail fund revenue by holding more U.S. Marshal Service prisoners in place of the Jeff Davis County’s prisoners, Roach said.

The U.S. Marshal Service contracts are already a significantly more lucrative revenue source for the county. The county’s fiscal year 2017 budget projects more than $1.8 million in revenue from boarding and transporting those in federal law enforcement custody.

Commissioner Lorenzo Hernandez suggested the $30,857 loss still missing if the City of Marfa pays for services rendered could be even less when the cost of fuel and maintenance on vehicles used by the three terminated deputies is considered.

“We don’t manufacture anything, we can’t just increase production,” Roach said. “At this point our options are what they always are: cut the budget or spend the reserves.”

The question remains as to whether the City of Marfa will pay the county for service already rendered this fiscal year. The Marfa’s contracts with the county expired with the end of the 2016 fiscal year on September 30. The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office has been providing law enforcement and dispatch services to the city without a contract or compensation.

The cost of services rendered adds up to about $112,500, according to Roach. That would kick the county’s net loss for the year up to $158,452.

City of Presidio special projects manager Carlos Nieto told elected county officials the county should put the same pressure to pay for services rendered as they put on the City of Presidio in 2016 when it was established that the city of Presidio owed the county five years worth of property tax collection fees. No one at the county could locate any contract, and the City of Presidio assumed the quarterly payments were automatically taken out of their taxes. The City of Presidio repaid the county more than $130,000.

“You have a contractual relationship with the City of Marfa no different than you have with the City of Presidio,” Nieto said. “We paid up, we met our obligation. You should hold Marfa to the same standards.”

Marfa City Manager Jim Mustard told the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel/Presidio International he was not aware the city owed anything and could not speak to the city’s intent to pay for services rendered.

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara told the commission she will be writing a letter to the City of Marfa about the money owed for services rendered.

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