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ARTESIA — As a result of revenue and budget difficulties from the economic downturn in the oil and gas industry, the City of Artesia recently announced wage cuts of 10 percent for all employees.

The pay cut came after a number of line items were slashed by the Artesia City Council, and while job layoffs were avoided, jobs that become available are now being scrutinized by the council to determine the urgency of the need to fill.

The city’s revenue steam is down 40 percent overall from two years ago, and the council has trimmed expenses and capital projects for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Artesia has long been known for its community cooperation and generosity. Bronze statues, athletic fields, school facilities, student scholarships, landscape projects, the public library, and park equipment have been planned, designed, constructed and funded through private gifts and donations by generous individuals, companies and foundations.

“We have approximately 120 other city employees that are taking home reduced paychecks, and the city council is focused on getting our city back on a solid economic footing.” – Mayor Phil Burch

Artesia Mayor Phil Burch announced today yet another example of community involvement and caring.

“A local entity has advised the city that the recently announced pay cuts of certified police personnel and firefighter/EMS personnel will be restored by a gift/donation,” Burch said. “Thus, first responder employees will receive normal paychecks for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

City councilors and department heads expressed appreciation for the gesture and “just shook their heads” at the generosity that has become the hallmark of the community.

“A number of people here have been very successful and are committed to making our city an even better place to live, work and raise families,” Burch said. “This culture of caring and generosity exemplifies Artesia.

“I am elated to have our public safety personnel receive full paychecks. This will assist in retaining outstanding personnel in each of these departments. However, we have approximately 120 other city employees that are taking home reduced paychecks, and the city council is focused on getting our city back on a solid economic footing.”

Elected officials are hopeful the economy in Southeast New Mexico has hit bottom and that improved revenues will begin to appear in the first half of 2017.

“The city council is determined to return all employees to their higher wages as soon as practical, Burch said. “This gift will help us get all employees back to normal in a shorter period of time. In the meantime, our employees are determined to continue to provide our citizens with exceptional service.”