Talon News - Good Local News



September 8, 2017

It's been a year since the City of Bloomfield employees took a pay cut to help the city deal with the loss of revenue from the downturn of the oil field. Following the August, 2016, pay cut, eight city employees were laid off from their jobs in another effort to balance the budget. While all of the city's approximately 85 remaining employees have taken on additional tasks, four women have added an extra full time position to the full time position they already had.

Erikka Martinez, Bloomfield's City Clerk; Evelyn Archuleta, the city's payroll specialist; Melinda Gomez, who heads up the city's Parks Department, and Ayme Vigil, the office manager for the Bloomfield Fire Department, all volunteered to take on job duties of a position that was vacated by layoffs or other reasons, and added those duties to their already full work schedule.

For Evelyn Archuleta, taking on another position was for another reason. Archuleta is the city's Payroll Specialist and, for 14 years, enjoyed a friendship with Betsy Campbell, who was the city's Accounts Payable/Procurement Specialist. When Campbell got ill in November of 2016, Archuleta took over Campbell's workload. "Betsy and I worked closely together, so when she got sick, I took over her work, thinking she would come back," Archuleta said. Sadly, Campbell did not come back. She succumbed to her illness in April, leaving Archuleta without one of her best friends but still with the extra work load. "It was hard to go into her office after she passed," Archuleta said. "I always expected to see her behind that desk."

Archuleta continues to do accounts payable and procurement during the time she's not working on the city's payroll. While she still feels the loss of her friend, Archuleta said she hopes she's doing a good job and that Campbell would be proud of her.

Bloomfield Finance Director Brad Ellsworth is Archuleta's supervisor and supervised Campbell as well. "When Betsy got sick, Evelyn just stepped up and took over Betsy's work without being asked," Ellsworth said. "She took on another extra workload, which she continues to carry, and she also lost her friend. I do hope to refill that position (Campbell's) when our revenues come back. We have to keep that position filled to fulfill our audit requirements."

While Archuleta has honed her multi-tasking skills in recent months, so have others.

Erikka Martinez has been the City Clerk for several years. When a layoff occurred in the Utility Department, Martinez stepped up and offered to help out. She now spends her days juggling the responsibilities of the city clerk's position and that of a Utilities Customer Service Representative. "Doing two full time jobs is tough, and I manage by staying very organized," Martinez said. "This fall should be a trying time with upcoming municipal elections. I am thankful I have people I can turn to for help, especially Glenda," she said, referring to the Lead Customer Service Representative.

The across-the-board pay cut all city employees had doesn't deter Martinez from doing both jobs to the best of her ability. "Regardless of the pay decrease that was taken from employees, it's important to continue to work hard and help keep city morale up. The city can't function properly without all of us working longer and harder to make sure the demands of our community are met," Martinez said.

"Erikka had expressed a willingness to accept the additional duties in Utilities and accepted when asked," said Brad Ellsworth, who oversees the Utilities Department. "She has been a big help in the department."

Ayme Vigil is the office manager for the Bloomfield Fire Department. In May of last year, the administrative assistant left, and Vigil assumed those duties. "Ayme comes in early and stays late more days than not," said Bloomfield Fire Chief John Mohler. "She simply refuses to put down any overtime (on her time sheet). The fire department handles emergencies, day to day operations are no different. We take care of the most important task at that moment, and move on to the next. Ayme does that well."

"I try to do my job, the other job, help John (Mohler) with the Deputy Chief duties and he is the Safety Officer as well, and I have to keep up with that," Vigil said. "And we have 30-plus-or-minus volunteers and three paid firefighters. A lot of it falls on me to issue gear and inventory and check it back in as well."

Vigil's ability to adapt to the ever changing atmosphere of the fire department is one of her strengths, Mohler said. "One moment, she'll be totaling the call volume as the office assistant. Next, she'll be working on the budget as the office manager, then talking to a contractor about the building plan review process, like a fire marshal," Mohler said.

"None of us would be here (the fire department) if it was about the money," Vigil said. "I want to see the fire department do well and I want to see John (Mohler) shine as the new fire chief, and he's doing two jobs as well. When John tells me 'Thank you. Mrs. Vigil,' which he does all the time, that's reward enough."

"This is not about a job or responsibilities for Ayme," Mohler said. "She actually cares about Bloomfield. She is one of the proudest 'Bobcats' I know. She has seen the good done by the firefighters and this department that she's been part of for over 25 years. She knows everyone within the community, and the community should know what she does for them."

Melinda Gomez is the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department. Gomez and a co-worker were co-directors of the department, but when her co-worker left the city, Gomez assumed full responsibilities of the department. "It is tough doing multiple jobs," Gomez said. "It is stressful for me to see some of the great parts of our city not being taken care of as well as they once were. My department has high expectation of how a job should be completed and we won't stop until it has met our standards."

Doing her job well is important to Gomez, she said. "This is my home town and I'm proud to be a part of this community. I feel like when people come to a freshly mowed park and see that all the weeds have been removed, trash has been picked up, the shrubs have been trimmed and the bathrooms have been cleaned, the park becomes more inviting, safer and a comfortable place to bring the family," she said. "I have gained more knowledge working in these (additional) positions," Gomez added. "There is still a certain amount of stress that comes with more responsibility, but I have learned to be optimistic and positive about the day-to-day operations."

"Melinda carefully prioritizes her workload to meet the demands of the public," said Jason Thomas, City Engineer and Public Works Director. "From sports field upkeep, mowing, trash pickup, maintenance, irrigation repairs, vector spraying, to fighting the 'weed wars,' there is quite often not enough time in the day. She and her dedicated crew of maintenance workers are always on the go and, in addition to their routine assignments, fill the role of event coordinators, plumbers, irrigation control specialists, welders and carpenters.

"Melinda never shies away from a difficult task," Thomas added. "If she brings me a problem she usually has the solution. She knew what she had to do (as the Parks Director), and she jumped in."

While Archuleta, Martinez, Vigil and Gomez have taken on additional roles within the city, it takes every city employee's efforts, hard work, and support of department heads and city officials to continue the work that must be done.

Donna Clifton, the city's Human Resources Director, took on the daunting task of revitalizing the city's Fitness Center last fall. Through the efforts of Clifton and her assistant, Angela Romo, the fitness center's numbers have increased and the center is contributing financially to the city's budget.

"To deal successfully with economic challenges, a city must have employees that care about their employer and are committed to stepping forward and doing more," said Bloomfield City Manager Eric Strahl.

"We are fortunate that the city has such employees," Strahl said. "One person alone cannot accomplish all that needs to be done to see the city through these times. It also makes a difference when employees are willing to come up with new ideas and approaches that can save the city money and/or improve services."

Bloomfield has reduced its expenditures by about $1.6 million in the last two years, Strahl said, with much of that amount related to wages and personnel expenses. While Strahl said the city might see a gradual improvement in the city's financial situation, he also believes it will take two years before the city can re-establish the minimum General Fund reserves needed.

"That does not mean, however, that we cannot look at restoring some or all of the pay reductions that have occurred," Strahl said. "What the city can and cannot do in this regard will depend upon how much and at what pace our regional economy improves."


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