As we all know, COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives.
Undoubtedly, and rightfully so, anxiety is high within the community. I want to take this opportunity to focus on positive, tension-reducing information and how your local government is ready for the challenge.
First and foremost, I want to commend residents for their social-distancing efforts.
As I compose this message, the City of Rio Rancho only has 52 confirmed cases out of a population of nearly 100,000. According to the New Mexico Department of Health, Rio Rancho makes up less than 3 percent of confirmed cases statewide.
While stressful times can bring out the worst in some, these situations can also shine a spotlight on our best traits as human beings. I have always been amazed by how community members and local businesses come together to support someone in need.
What this pandemic has further highlighted is that Rio Rancho is full of caring people. This is evident by those donating goods and services to people in need, making and donating masks, and supporting public-safety and health-care workers in too many ways to list.
While it is difficult to remember right now, we can never forget that where we call home is nationally recognized as a best place to live. Quality-of-life aspects such as low crime, access to health-care facilities, public schools and amenities such as parks and libraries distinguished Rio Rancho before COVID-19.
This will also be the case after COVID-19 subsides and life returns to normal.
The impact of businesses being shut down not only affects household incomes, but it also reduces how much government has to fund public services. This can be challenging because government has to continue providing running water and emergency response, no matter what.
The true tests of leadership and decision-making are time and the economy. We would be in real trouble right now had local government been influenced by some individuals and politicians advocating for overspending via lowering city reserve levels, spending on wants instead of needs and essentially maxing out the city credit card related to new debt.
While Rio Rancho will undoubtedly have less revenue available the next few months, the critical public services we all need and rely upon will not be impacted. Many other communities, unfortunately, will not be in this same position.
The key to re-establishing Rio Rancho’s positive momentum and putting COVID-19 behind us will be the local economy’s recovery. I am establishing a special task force comprised of community members and experts to provide input on the best short- and long-term courses of action.
As Rio Rancho works with federal and state officials to provide aid to businesses, I will continue to be a champion and advocate for small business, and make sure Rio Rancho receives its fair share of assistance.
For the latest information on COVID-19 and city operations, as well as links to other information and resources, please visit rrnm.gov/covid19. And please remember, stay safe, stay strong and we will get through this.
(Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull was elected to his second term in March 2018.)