Oil downturn ripples through city finances in New Mexico

Hard times are turning more worrisome for cities and small towns in the heart of New Mexico oil and natural gas territory as state officials contemplate reclaiming dollars pledged to local construction projects to fill a budget gap.

New Mexico lawmakers are confronting a $458 million budget shortfall this fiscal year and may try to reel in money from public works projects before they're built.

Efforts by the state to sweep together idle cash worry Phillip Burch, the mayor of Artesia.

The southeastern New Mexico community already has cut its wages by 10 percent in an effort to close its own revenue shortfall, and Burch fears state budget remedies could freeze local projects that include plans for a new municipal water tower.