Senator says nearly 6k federal workers furloughed in state

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FARMINGTON — The partial government shutdown has meant many federal employees who live in San Juan County have been going without pay.

According to U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., more than 5,800 federal workers in New Mexico are currently furloughed. That includes National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management employees.

During an Aztec City Commission meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Victor Snover described the situation as people being held “financially hostage” over decisions being made in Washington.

“They’re either working without pay or they’re just not getting paid, and they’re sitting at home,” he said. “Their bills don’t miraculously go away just because, you know, the government shuts down.”

Snover said Aztec is looking at ways to pool resources to help the employees who are currently without pay. Meanwhile, the ECHO Food Bank in Farmington is putting together food boxes to help those employees who may be struggling to make ends meet.

“When things like this do happen, it has a ripple effect,” said Alicia Borrego Pierce, the ECHO executive director.

She said because the employees have not been without pay for at least 30 days, most of them do not qualify for most forms of assistance.

Borrego said that prompted ECHO to begin preparing food boxes for them. She said people who need assistance can pick up referral forms at the office at 1921 E. Murray Drive in Farmington.

The shutdown also means ECHO needs more donations.

“We are going to be out of food and out of funding shortly,” Borrego Pierce said.

She said ECHO relies heavily on donations of food and money. These donations can be dropped off at the ECHO Food Bank, 401 S. Commercial Ave. in Farmington.

“We’re obviously always in need of food,” said Kirk Denetclaw, the food program director.

He said each food box is designed to feed a family for at least five days.

Denetclaw said ECHO tends to need more canned fruit and canned meat, as well as juices.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com

 

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