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City, county receive relief funding from state


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Officials want about $2.2 million to go to businesses

Chaves County and the city of Roswell have received more than $7.78 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding through the state.

The city will decide future steps for using the CARES funding after it has received and signed the grant agreements, said Juan Fuentes, administrative services director for the city of Roswell. (Submitted Photo)

The New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration began notifying counties and municipalities of funding decisions Monday, and the department, along with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, made a public announcement Tuesday.

The city of Roswell requested $12.7 million for government funding and $2.8 million for small business grants. It received $5,556,250 for the local government and $1,351,000 for small business grants.

“It is a good thing for us to be able to have some kind of relief,” said Juan Fuentes, city administrative services director. “We were hoping for a larger amount in what we originally requested on the city side, but definitely the $5.5 (million) is going to help to offset some of the costs, which will help our overall need in the city.”

The county has received both business and government funding, said Public Services Director Bill Williams, but it wants all of its allocation to go to businesses. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Some confusion existed with the county request. Public Services Director Bill Williams said the county intended to ask for $1 million, with all of it going to small business grants. The state shows that the county submitted two $1 million applications, and allocated $537,500 to the government entity and $337,750 for small businesses.

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“The jury is still out. We are trying to find out exactly where and how we can use the funds. We would really like to get this in the hands of the public, more than anything else,” Williams said. “We are very happy that we have received some money that will help the community.”

The county is talking now with the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. about coordinating the business grant funding, Williams said, although details have not been determined yet. Fuentes said the city could possibly be working with the EDC on it, as well.

The EDC was the organization that processed the business applications on behalf of the city and county in August, and its president, Mike Espiritu, said that it received 141 applications. Individual businesses were not asked to make specific funding requests, but instead were required to submit information about the effect of business closures or the pandemic on their revenues and operations.

The funding to local governments and businesses comes from the $1.07 billion that the state of New Mexico received from the federal CARES Act enacted in March. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, New Mexico received a total of $1.25 billion because the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County qualified for their own separate payments of about $182 million.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced July 27 that the state would distribute $178 million of CARES money to tribal governments, municipalities and counties that applied for the relief funding by early August, with $28 million set aside for tribal governments and $150 million for local governments.

Of the $150 million available for local governments, $50 million was designated for Small Business Continuity Grant Programs to help enterprises with fewer than 50 employees and less than $2 million in annual revenues recover pandemic-related losses or redesign their operations or buildings to function during the coronavirus pandemic.

In their Tuesday announcement, the governor’s office and Department of Finance and Administration indicated that 83 local government applications were submitted with funding requests totaling $183.73 million. The state awarded $99.83 million to municipalities and counties for their own purposes.

For the small business continuity grants, 66 applications requesting $106.39 million were submitted, with $49.96 million allocated.

“Every applicant received funding. No one gets left behind,” Lujan Grisham said in the public announcement.

The towns of Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur within Chaves County did not submit funding applications, according to the state reports.

The state made its award decisions in part based on entities’ compliance with state public health orders and efforts to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. Henry Valdez, Department of Finance and Administration public information officer, said that various sections of the applications were assigned points, and awards to entities were based on total scores received.

“There was a bit of a question about a political spin put on it, but this was kind of the best and fairest way to grade the amount an applicant was going to get,” he said. “It was all related to what the county or municipality submitted in their applications.”

According to state information and CARES funding guidelines, businesses can use the funds for such expenses as rent or mortgage, non-owner employee payroll, utilities, insurance and marketing, or they can use the money to build structures or barriers or purchase equipment or technology needed to function during the pandemic.

Governments can use the money to aid businesses, provide child care for the area, purchase personal protective equipment for government purposes, cover expenses related to efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and to pay for personnel costs related to public health and public safety.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.