LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico county is facing a budget crisis, and Wednesday night at a commission meeting the county manger announced possible job cuts.
Valencia County commissioners said they’ve already implemented a hiring freeze. Then, Wednesday night the commission voted to pass a freeze on all non-essential expenses, but officials add that may not be enough.
The county is short nearly $600,000 to balance the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“We’re broke,” County Manager Danny Monette said. “We’re like most counties. Everybody is struggling. The state is struggling.”
Valencia County has 274 employees. Monette said, right now, the county is scrambling to find places where it can save money.
“We’ve looked at freezing all vacancies. We’ve cut travel. We’ve cut training. Everything is on the board,” Monette said.
Unfortunately, county employees are also included on that board.
Monette said the current cost savings plan most likely won’t be enough to close the gap.
“You hate to have to affect people’s livelihoods,” Commission Chair Charles Eaton said. “That’s the worst thing you want to have to do. People show up to work because they support their families.”
The county said they’d be forced to cut anywhere from 15 to 20 jobs.
“Unfortunately, it’s going to have to be employees,” Eaton said.
Until it gets to that point, Eaton said the commission is going to look at every possible option.
“I think we need to implement some cost savings between now and until the end of the [fiscal year],” he said.
The county is also looking to cut some “third party agreements.”
It wouldn’t name any specific agreements its contracted out because no decision is final.
The county has not said what specific jobs would be in jeopardy. However, county officials said they wouldn’t make any cuts to public safety jobs.
The commission is giving the county manager until next Tuesday to come up with last minute options before it moves to cutting jobs.