Five workers to be laid off after EPCOG contract loss

Sharna Johnson

The Eastern Plains Council of Government’s loss of a contract for the Eastern Area Workforce Development Board (EAWDB) means five Clovis workers will lose their jobs.

EPCOG bid to continue its role as the administrative and fiscal agent for the EAWDB, however competing bidder New Mexico Tech Net was selected.

But at least with an extension until February for the contract to switch over, Interim-Director Sandy Chancey said she is glad that she doesn’t have to issue lay-off letters right before Christmas.

Chancey’s comments were made during a meeting Wednesday of the EPCOG executive committee.

“All of our workforce staff does know that they will be laid off,” she told committee members.

Chancey said an evaluation by EAWDB of the two bidders scored Tech Net higher than EPCOG.

The workforce board’s goal is to “identify workforce needs and opportunities and guide the development of training programs and services to meet those needs,” according to EPCOG’s website.

EPCOG has held the workforce board contract since the program’s inception in 2000 and the contract accounted for approximately a third of EPCOG’s nearly $2 million budget, Chancey said.

The loss reduces the number of programs EPCOG manages to three — economic development, housing and transportation — after lost grant money led to the closure of a teen parenting program and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) program.

Where there once was a fully staffed office, Chancey said there will be five employees at EPCOG after Jan. 31.

“At one time this building was full,” she said. “The COG at one time ran numerous programs … EPCOG has been the administrative agent since the inception of the (workforce) program in eastern New Mexico, so it will take us some time to make the transition.”

EPCOG had a staff of 17 as recently as June when it approved its budget.

Earlier in the year, the workforce board decided not to bid for a contract to administer the TANF program because of changes to the program, resulting in a more than $2 million budget reduction.

Loss of the TANF program resulted in five layoffs, EPCOG officials said.

Chancey told committee members Tech Net has asked to use EPCOG’s financial management system but said she does not think it would be a good idea.

“I don’t want anybody else tapping into our system,” she said.

Additionally, she said with software licensing and other fees, the cost of sharing the system would be thousands of dollars.

“I don’t plan to be difficult and contrary, but I don’t intend to be a doormat either,” she said.

Chancey said having a financial management system was one of the requirements for bidders.

If for some reason Tech Net cannot meet the expectations of the contract with the workforce board, Chancey said the contract would default back to EPCOG as the only other bidder.

“If something falls through with Tech Net, they’re not going to have any choice but to deal with us,” she said.

In other business, after an approximately one-hour long executive session, the EPCOG executive committee voted to give Chancey a pay increase from $31,500 as an executive assistant to $43,500 as interim director.

Her predecessor, Richard Arguello, was paid $37,500 as part-time director and Nick Brady, who held the position before Arguello, was paid a salary of $75,000 annually, she said.

Chancey has been with EPCOG for about a year and a half and became interim director Dec. 1.

EPCOG is a consortium of seven counties in eastern New Mexico and helps local governments with infrastructure planning and economic development. It includes Union, Harding, Quay, Guadalupe, De Baca, Curry and Roosevelt counties.

The executive committee consists of representation from the seven county governments within EPCOG’s region.