ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – The pandemic has had a devastating impact on city budgets statewide. There have been cuts in services, layoffs, and furloughs but one southeastern New Mexico town is looking to eliminate the furloughs, saying it’s hurting public services.
“We were very concerned about our revenue stream and we took some drastic measures to make sure the city wouldn’t suffer,” said Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh.
Roswell City Council will vote on January 14 to get rid of the remaining six furlough days in the 2021 budget. To try and save money, the city voted to put in ten furlough days and offer early retirement to city employees. The city was hoping 30 employees would take advantage of the early retirement, instead, 46 did. Those taking early retirements were in management positions across all departments in Roswell, which left a huge gap to fill.
“Anytime you remove or change the resources that it takes to provide the service, it will not operate the same way as it did,” said City Manager Joe Neeb.
The early retirements saved the Roswell more than $1.6 million. Neeb said they promoted people from within to those management positions that left gaps in departments like water, trash, and administration. However, they were able to hire people to fill some of their positions.
“The furloughs while we had it there in order to cushion us if life stayed bad, we believe that we’re OK with taking that off,” said Neeb.
The mayor and the city manager say they hope city council approves eliminating the final six furlough days from the budget that started July 1 of last year. If they do not approve the elimination some offices might have to close on furlough days.
“We started off the year with the furloughs, the council actually took the first four off. We’ve not had to implement a furlough yet,” said Neeb.
The Spring River Zoo is one place that was short of employees. When it was shut down at the start of the pandemic those employees were moved to other departments. Friday, 80 employees from firefighters to accountants were at the zoo to get it ready to reopen on Jan. 16.