The Las Cruces City Council, meeting as the Downtown Tax Increment and Development District (TIDD) Board of Commissioners, focused much of its discussion during the Monday, April 26, 2021 board meeting on proposed future TIDD priorities within the special tax district.
Monday’s TIDD Board meeting was conducted via video conference.
Four proposed projects were presented to the TIDD board, who initially prioritized which projects should be addressed sooner.
There was informal consensus from the TIDD board to proceed with the redesign and reconstruction of Campo Street, which is along the western boundary of the TIDD. Goals of the project are to redesign Campo Street to make it more accessible for pedestrians and to make the street look and feel more like a part of Downtown Las Cruces. A design study is already underway and a public meeting for the project will be conducted through video conference at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29.
Funding for the redesign study, at $215,000, is included in the current Fiscal Year 2021 budget. Funding for reconstruction of Campo Street, estimated at $2 million, will need to be secured elsewhere.
The TIDD board is also interested in the development and construction of a business incubator, which could be operated on property along Griggs Avenue, from 100 S. Church St. west to 100 S. Main St. The proposed business incubator is envisioned as a business hub to catalyze economic growth that would be accessible to community members. The proposed facility could include workspace and a retail co-op providing opportunities to small local business, entrepreneurs, and under-served communities. The cost for the proposed project, which would utilize TIDD funds, would be $1 million.
Two proposed TIDD projects will require further deliberations. One of those is continued restoration of the Amador Hotel, which could cost as much as $5 million. City staff has recommended a phased construction and funding schedule to complete the restoration. The TIDD board believes partial TIDD funding may needed to continue restoration of the former hotel, which is one of Las Cruces’ oldest buildings. A City Council work session is scheduled June 14 to further discuss restoration of the Amador Hotel.
A proposed TIDD project for the possible installation of shade structures – and potentially solar shade structures – at Plaza de Las Cruces will also prompt additional consideration by City Council. The cost to install non-solar shade structures is estimated to be $1 million, and solar would cost more. The TIDD board agreed more information and discussion is needed before a decision can be made.
After the TIDD Board Meeting, the Council convened for a Work Session, also conducted through video conference. The proposed Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget and Capital Improvement Plan for City government, which begins July 1, was presented to City Council and discussed at length. A proposed budget of $497.8 million was presented. Also included in the presentation was the proposed Technology Improvement Plan for City government; the proposed Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP); and a list of City Council priority projects for the 2021 fiscal year.
As required by the Las Cruces City Charter, the proposed budget provided a complete financial plan of all City funds and activities for the upcoming year.
City Council has until the end of May to adopt a budget and submit it to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration for review. Before final Council action on the proposed budget, a public hearing will be conducted in May.
Additionally, the Council received a presentation from John Hummer regarding the establishment of El Paso Electric Co.’s $20 Million Economic Development Fund. El Paso Electric has announced its commitment and funding of $1 million annually for the next 20 years for economic development projects and entities in Las Cruces.
The fund has been established at the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. Hummer is serving as a board of adviser with Ed Camden and Jerean Hutchinson who will review applications. Hummer told the Council a May 10 public meeting will be conducted for applicants. An announcement of who has been awarded economic development funds is anticipated by the end of May.