By Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Sun News 7.10.22
At Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), oversight of its projects and policies are guided by the Board of Commissioners for the City of Las Cruces Utilities (Board). Public input and observation from citizens are encouraged, and for those who have never been to a board meeting before, what follows should give attendees a better idea of what to expect.
How is the LCU Board organized?
The Board, established in December 2006, consists of seven Commissioners, two of whom are seated Las Cruces City Councilors, and five of whom are unpaid members of the public. The Commissioners represent all ratepayers and are selected to serve by having backgrounds in banking or finance, business, economics, or engineering.
City Manager Ifo Pili serves as Director of the Board, while the LCU Director Delilah Walsh serves as Secretary. Both Pili and Walsh serve as ex-officio nonvoting members of the Board, except when a quorum is needed, then Pili becomes a voting member.
What happens during a monthly board meeting?
The Board meetings are held every second Thursday at 3 p.m. at the LCU Administration 680 N. Motel Blvd. LCU deputy directors, staff, and consultants report on ongoing projects and the financial status of the utilities. Resolutions are presented to the board for approval, ranging from purchasing specific equipment, hiring contractors for specialized work, to rate review proposals sent to City Council for approval, among other items.
On certain months, a work session will precede the regular session that goes into depth on an topic that will come before the board. Those work sessions are announced via the agenda, and those and meeting minutes for review are found here: https://publicrecords.las-cruces.org/WebLink/Browse.aspx?id=1085033&dbid=0&repo=Live&cr=1
If citizens cannot make the meeting in person and would still like to give input on an item on the agenda, public comments or questions can also be emailed to: UtilitiesCustomerComments@las-cruces.org. The email will be read into the official meeting record.
Who is on the LCU Board?
Commissioner William M. Little (Current Chair)
William Little began serving on the Board in 2008 after a 40-year career in environmental consulting. A hydrologist by background and training, much of his career was spent dealing with the environmental consequences of past hazardous waste disposal.
Commissioner Edmund Archuleta (Current Vice-Chair)
Edmund Archuleta has over 50 years in water resources management, with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in water resource management. He has managed the water utilities in both Albuquerque and El Paso and worked for three different consulting engineering companies while working part-time for two universities. Archuleta was appointed to the board July 2017.
Commissioner Tessa Abeyta District 2)
Tessa Abeyta is a native New Mexican who was raised in Los Alamos. She was drawn to Las Cruces via New Mexico State University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Government in 2009. In 2020, Abeyta began her first term in office for Las Cruces City Council and was appointed to the board January 2022.
Commissioner Johana Bencomo (City Councilor District 4)
Bencomo currently serves as the City Councilor for District 4, where she has focused on ensuring the city prioritizes anti-poverty efforts to improve the quality of life for all Las Crucens. She most recently served as the Executive Director for the faith-based organizing non-profit in Southern NM, NM CAFé. She was first appointed to the board January 2020.
Commissioner Dr. Harry Hardee, PE ret.
Dr. Hardee spent nearly 30 years working at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hardee worked on nuclear weapons for about 10 years and geophysics programs dealing with advanced geothermal drilling and energy extraction. He also has over 100 peer-reviewed technical publications and several dozen patents. Hardee was appointed to the board June 2020.
Commissioner Raymond Hickman
Hickman’s varied career in engineering — from working with NASA’s wind tunnels to mixing rocket fuel in California — has prepared him to understand the utility needs of Las Cruces residents and businesses. He is the newest board member appointed October 2021.
Commissioner Dr. Harry Johnson
Commissioner Dr. Harry Johnson, a New Mexico State University Aggie with all three degrees in chemistry, spent 36 years at the NASA White Sands Test Facility. He started in the chemistry laboratory and progressed to the managerial and financial side. He explained that the test facility operated like its own city, with its own sewage and water wells. Johnson was first appointed to the board in June 2016.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: Back row from left to right: Commissioner Johana Bencomo, Commissioner Harry Hardee, Commissioner Raymond Hickman, Commissioner Tessa Abeyta. Front row, left to right: Commissioner Harry Johnson, Commissioner William Little (Chair), and Commissioner Edmund Archuleta (Vice-Chair).