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LAS CRUCES CITY COUNCIL

City council adopts changes to election code

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The Las Cruces City Council unanimously adopted a number of changes to the city’s election code, bringing it into closer alignment with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s campaign finance guidelines. The changes are the first to be made to the city’s campaign code since 2013.

The changes include:

  • Adding definitions for phrases and words, including in-kind contributions, loan and treasurer;
  • Changing the total amount a candidate for city office can receive from $2,300 to $2,800. That includes contributions from any individual, political committee or any other entity, and includes a candidate’s family members;
  • Eliminating raffles as campaign fundraiser. The New Mexico Gaming Control Board does not include campaigns, campaign committees or political committees as organizations eligible to conduct raffles under the state’s Bingo and Raffle Act. Violations of the Bingo and Raffle Act could result in criminal charges;
  • Allowing special events or fundraisers to be conducted if tickets cost $25 or less and no more than $1,000 in net contributions is received;
  • Allowing for the voluntary return by the candidate to the contributor of excessive or prohibited contributions;
  • Establishing a $100 limit for an individual anonymous contribution for the length of an election campaign. The previous limit was $25;
  • Mandating that, regardless of the outcome of an election, a candidate is required to continue filing campaign finance reports until his or her campaign account is closed.

The changes were proposed after a review of the code following the 2019 municipal elections determined that there was no real accountability regarding the filing of financial reports.

Also, at the April 19 meeting, the council unanimously adopted a resolution approving a contract not to exceed $9,173,003, plus state gross receipts tax, to Jaynes Corp. of Las Cruces for construction of the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV) New Adoption Center, which will also include the Rinconada and Burn Lake dog parks.

The project is part of the $36.5 million general obligation (GO) bond project approved by Las Cruces voters in the all mail-in election in August 2018.

The ASCMV New Adoption Center and the Rinconada Dog park will be at 3551 Bataan Memorial West. The Burn Lake Dog Park will be within Burn Lake Park, 855 Amador Ave.

The council also unanimously adopted two other items at the April 19 meeting:

  • A resolution requesting a one-year extension to update public safety development impact fees while continuing their collection and expenditure under the current fee structure through June 30, 2022. The one-year extension will enable the city to issue a request for proposals to hire a consultant to determine what changes could be recommended. Public meetings to review the fees and proposed changes could be conducted through March 2022.
  • An ordinance updating the city’s buildings and building regulations to reflect changes in the state’s 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code and the 2015 Uniform Mechanical Code.