Updated: May 18, 2020 11:44 PM
Created: May 18, 2020 06:44 PM
ROSWELL, N.M. — Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh said the city’s economy has taken a huge plunge amid COVID-19, as the state continues to find ways to slow the spread of the virus while cautiously reopening the state per Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health orders.
“We’ve been shut down for well over six weeks, and we don’t see any relief, any true relief in sight,” he said. “We know businesses are closing, permanently. We don’t have a final number on that, we’re trying to get that but it’s hard to track down and this impacts the city.”
Kintigh said the city’s gas and oil industry and tourism have also taken a hit.
“Oil and gas is critical to this state and to this region and this industry is in a world of hurt right now, which means the state is in a world of hurt,” he said. “Tourism of course has been crushed and it’s just non-existent. Tourism is a big deal in the state; it’s not as huge in Roswell, but we have the UFO Museum and that whole UFO Festival which are—one is closed and the other is cancelled.”
“When we as a people can move around again, I expect that to come back—slower but it will come back eventually,” Kintigh said. “The trick is going to be to make sure there is something here for people to engage in."
Kintigh said budget cuts are expected; and some jobs aren’t promised as of now.
“The city is going on a very severe budget cut right now,” he said. “We are preparing a budget that is bare bones as we can get; we are looking at reductions of about $35 million out of about 110 million from the year before. We’re looking at severance packages to let employees leave and we’re talking the possibility of furloughs. We’re having a hiring freeze.”
Kintigh believes it could possibly take a year before the city’s economy gets better, but said the city must brace the storm.
“Even if we open up fully, it’s going to be a long slow climb,” Kintigh said. “If that takes off again, for whatever reason, the climb will be quicker. We don’t know what the future holds, and we have to prepare for the worst.”
According to New Mexico Department of Health, Chaves County has 31 positive COVID cases and 2 deaths. Kintigh said southeast New Mexico isn’t greatly affected compared to other areas in New Mexico.
“There is a real need for folks in Sante Fe to recognize that different regions are impacted differently. Southeast New Mexico has nowhere near the cases. Our hospitals are empty and this talk of two-week quarantine if you come over from West Texas is crazy,” he said. “West Texas is less of a threat to our safety than Albuquerque and Northwest New Mexico –look at the numbers, look at the data and that’s the problem. We’ve got to be able to engage in economic activity and it doesn’t make any sense to keep us in this severe lockdown.”
Copyright 2020 - KOB-TV LLC, A Hubbard Broadcasting Company