City, county face tough decisions

Mar 9th, 2015

One possible area of agreement, no matter what side of the aisle or fence you might sit on, is that our local economy is not flourishing.

City, county face tough decisionsAlthough we have seen some positive signs, southern New Mexico was late coming out of the recession and some say we are still in it. Our dependence on the federal government for money and jobs makes us beholden to a group that we have little influence, and even less control, over.

We sit at a crossroads where we either accept what is given to us by Washington, D.C., or we look to ourselves, here locally, to affect our own outcomes.

During the past several years, the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce has spoken in support of some, and in opposition to most, local legislation being considered by both the City of Las Cruces and Doa Ana County. If we are really going to make a shift from a federally dependent economic plan to one where we, the people who know our assets and capabilities best, determine our future, our local governing bodies need to lead the way.

There are two topics currently being considered that can either help to facilitate local growth, or could serve as a disincentive.

City of Las Cruces

The City of Las Cruces is currently reviewing an arroyo management plan. To its credit, at a recent work session, City Council chose to further study the plan rather than voting it in right then and there.

Councillor Gill Sorg suggested that it be evaluated to better understand the economic impact of implementing the plan.

Much work has been put into the plan, but more needs to be done to determine the downstream – no pun intended – impact of it from a flood management and a future development perspective.

The next work session will be Monday, March 9. The city is also reviewing a major change to El Paseo Road with its Realizing El Paseo plan. Input from the business community, especially those located on El Paseo, will be key as the design process moves forward.

Doña Ana County

Doña Ana County is planning to vote on increasing the gross receipts tax (GRT) another three-eighths of 1 percent Tuesday, March 24. The county estimates it will lose about $100,000 annually as a result of the state’s change in the Hold Harmless law, but will raise $14.3 million in additional tax revenue a year with this increase. Please note the aforementioned increase will also hit in the City of Las Cruces – so buying most goods or services in the city will cost three-fourths of 1 percent more because the county’s tax will be added to what the city implemented last July.

One big issue here is that this type of tax is what is referred to as regressive – it hurts the less fortunate the most. This comes on the heels of three recent votes where citizens said “no” to tax increases and the big battle on minimum wage, the very people who were targeted to be helped, will pay an inordinate share of the tax.

Both entities have tough decisions to make in March. They need to measure revenues versus expenses. Sometimes they need to hold of on hiring, sometimes not replace retiring workers.

Sometimes stall capital projects.

Hmmm, that sounds like what we do every day. Fortunately, they both have capable managers who are used to making those difficult decisions. Both managers are also very open to listening to others’ points of view, as are our elected officials. Input from the business community is critical.

Contact the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, and we will walk you through several possibilities to make your feelings known on decisions that not only impact our tomorrow, they impact our today.