NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The economic slowdown caused by the pandemic is driving down revenues for counties across the state. In order to save money, Sandoval County is now asking some workers to volunteer to go on furlough. The county is asking non-essential employees to voluntarily furlough, taking unpaid leave.

The county said they cannot justify paying workers who are unable to carry out their jobs during the pandemic. Those workers were able to take emergency administrative leave for hours not worked, collecting the same amount of income they usually would. However, that ended May 1. Now, the county is asking non-essential employees to make a decision.

“This is kind of the county’s way of asking those people that have been getting paid and made whole this entire time without being able to fulfill their job position to see if they can try a different avenue,” Public Information Officer Stephen Montoya said.

Montoya said they made this decision while considering what they could afford going into the next fiscal year beginning in July. Right now, the county projects will lose $5 million from its general fund. Montoya said they don’t have a number in mind about how many employees the county would need to volunteer.

“We have enough faith in our employees that they would see the benefit of what we are offering them right now,” Montoya said. “We want to bring everybody back to the county as soon as we possibly can and allow everyone the opportunity to keep their jobs.”

Furloughed workers could still collect unemployment. Montoya said they would have to re-evaluate how they would move forward if no one volunteers.

Employees applying for unemployment compensation will receive an additional $600 per week in addition to their regular unemployment benefits through July 31.

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