The Las Cruces City Council learned of the priorities Las Cruces residents believe should be on the ballot for the 2022 General Obligation (GO) Bond election.
Completion of the second phase of the East Mesa Recreation Complex; continued improvements for existing City of Las Cruces Parks and Recreation Department facilities; substantially increased funding for affordable housing initiatives; construction of a new Fire Station No. 9, that would be built in City Council District 5; and expansion of Thomas Branigan Memorial Library are some of the priorities that were presented to City Council at its Monday, June 13, 2022 work session, in Council Chambers at City Hall, 700 N. Main St.
Architectural Research Consultants, Inc. (ARC) presented City Council with a summary of public engagement activities, and a list of potential GO Bond projects. The presentation begins discussions to prioritize projects that will formulate the GO Bond election questions. The 2022 GO Bond election will be conducted Tuesday, November 8.
In support of the 2022 GO Bond initiative, the City hired ARC to conduct public engagement activities which has included nine in-person and two virtual public meetings, website development, and a citizen survey to scope GO Bond projects.
No final decisions have been made. City Council will conduct another work session on June 27 and a regularly scheduled meeting July 18 to further determine what projects or initiatives will be included on the GO Bond ballot. If City Council needs additional time to finalize the GO Bond ballot, additional discussions and deliberations could be scheduled August 1 and August 15.
Information about the 2022 GO Bond initiative is available online at https://www.las-cruces.org/2547/2022-GO-Bond. A second online survey regarding the 2022 GO Bond is available at https://survey.vovici.com/se/37FB28392CBB9AFB01 until June 20.
In 2018 city voters approved $35.6 million in GO bonds that are now being used to build new City parks and recreation facilities and for improvements to some existing parks and sports fields; replace Fire Station No. 3, on Valley Drive, with a new station; construct a new Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley; and to build and improve recreational walking, jogging and biking trails throughout the city. The status of those 2018 GO Bond projects is available online at https://www.las-cruces.org/1892/2018-General-Obligation-Bond-Projects.
Additionally, during Monday’s work session, an overview of the City’s Telshor Fund was presented to the Council. The total corpus of the fund is $30,282,874. The Telshor Fund originates from the City’s net proceeds of the 40-year lease of Memorial Medical Center.
It is used to subsidize various health and human services programs provided to city residents from nonprofit agencies and organizations. The special revenue fund is used only for specific programs determined by the Council for health-related programs and related capital projects.
The presentation from City staff provided opportunities for City Council to discuss use of the fund and potential changes it may want to make, if any, for future Telshor Fund investments or for potential future fund allocations.
From the City’s 2009 to 2018 fiscal years, City Council awarded $300,000 annually in Telshor Funds to nonprofit organizations and agencies for health and human services, programs and projects. During the City’s 2019 to 2022 fiscal years, City Council increased Telshor Fund allocations to $400,000 each of those years, and for the City’s 2023 to 2026 fiscal years the allotments will increase to $600,000 annually.
For the final item on Monday’s work session agenda, there was City Council consensus to proceed with deliberations and make decisions about allocations regarding retail cannabis excise tax revenues. Although it could take another six to nine months before the New Mexico Legislature formalizes a general outline of how state excise tax revenues could be distributed, City Council said cannabis excise tax revenues generated from city sales could be dedicated to several sources.
Approximately 4 percent, or one-third of the cannabis excise tax, will be allocated to the City. More than $107,000 could be generated in cannabis excise taxes in 2022 in Las Cruces and could grow to almost $685,000 by 2027.