The Las Cruces City Council discussed priority projects and programs that could be included in Capital Improvement Plan and operating budget for City government’s 2022 fiscal year during its Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 Work Session.
No final decisions were made, and further Council discussion is planned for a March 22 work session.
At Monday’s Work Session, City staff presented 26 Council priorities. The Council was initially asked to try to determine its top 10 priorities.
Mayor Ken Miyagishima said the list of priorities should take into consideration what decisions the Council might have to make regarding other existing City services that could be cut.
In November, the City’s Public Works Department and Budget Office met with the Mayor and each Councilor to compile a list of their priorities for Fiscal Year 2022, which begins July 1, 2021.
Also, during Monday’s Work Session, the City’s Economic Development Department presented a general economic overview to City Council that included data for unemployment rates, labor force, top employment industries, housing market conditions, business registration trends, and other economic variables. The purpose of the presentation, provided by City Economist Kyle Eager, was to inform the Council of key economic indicators while highlighting areas of local growth compared to the region and the U.S.
The three most notable points made during the economic update to Council were:
Employment conditions were significantly worse in 2020, compared to 2019.
Employment in the Accommodations and Food Service industry experienced the most negative impact by the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, with a 22.8 percent decrease.
Despite the COVID-19 shutdown, the City’s real estate market has been strong since 2019.
Some other key highlights to City Council were:
The City’s unemployment rate in 2020 was highly volatile, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From September to December 2020 total employment was stagnant in Las Cruces but less than the same period in 2019.
The number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cases increased in Doña Ana County during 2020, particularly from April to November.
City business registrations declined considerably from 2019 to 2020.
The median residential listing price in Las Cruces continued to increase, to $242,000 in 2020.
New construction permits issued by the City increased in 2020. The construction industry was considered an essential industry during the pandemic and was not affected.
Additionally, the Economic Development Department presented proposed marketing initiatives for the City’s Industrial Park. The Industrial Park acts as an economic development engine and has been prioritized by City Council in the Strategic Plan.
Industries that have been identified as potential future tenants include: the aerospace, aviation, and defense industries; advanced manufacturing; and value-added agricultural products.
Regarding rebranding of the industrial park, a new logo has been developed, and the Economic Development Policy Review Committee has recommended renaming the industrial park to the Las Cruces Innovation and Industrial Park.
City Council also received a brief update from the City’s COVID-19 Task Force. The Council was told that approximately 23,000 Doña Ana County residents have been partially vaccinated so far. Also, an application has been submitted to the New Mexico Department of Health that could allow the Las Cruces Fire Department to become a provider of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Residents can register for the vaccine at vaccinenm.org. A telephone number has also been established for residents to call with questions regarding local COVID-19 vaccinations. That telephone number is 575/528-5119.