Las Cruces 2022 General Obligation Bond Overview
This November, Las Cruces residents are going to be presented with four general obligation bond questions about affordable housing, public safety, and park and recreation improvements. According to city officials, passage of any of the four bonds will not raise tax rates for citizens of Las Cruces. Natalie Green, Housing and Neighborhood Services Manager at the City of Las Cruces, shared why the bond questions are needed.
“Without this funding, essential projects around the city could not get done. GO bonds are for projects that don’t have recurring funding, and so if we don’t pass these GO bonds, none of the projects will be completed,” Green said.
The bonds seek a total of $23 million for four projects. $6 million for affordable housing, $10 million for a new fire station, $2 million for park improvements and $5 million for the East Mesa Recreation Complex.
According to a report by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, over 40% of New Mexico renters pay over 30% of their income on housing costs, and the burden gets worse for those in lower income brackets. City officials say there is a massive shortage of affordable housing units.
“We estimate that we need around 5600 rental units and about 6000 single-family homes for buyers and renters in Las Cruces,” Green said. “This GO bond for affordable housing will help us build anywhere from 175 to 300 units, so it’s a start.”
Green says the affordable housing GO bond is a way to ensure citizens don’t get priced out as Las Cruces continues to grow.
“We just want to make sure that we're planning for the future and that we're not displacing our current residents and they have housing choice in Las Cruces regardless of their income,” Green said.
Another bond question before voters aims to improve city parks. Director of Parks and Recreation, Sonya Delgado says voters can approve a bond question that may improve the standard of living for residents.
“It's important because individuals in the community utilize these parks for their health and well-being, [these are] places to bring your family together, places to learn who your neighbors are and just enjoy community involvement,” Delgado said. “The biggest benefit of GO Bond 2022 in regards to parks and recreation is that it will raise the level of service. So we’ll have the opportunity to replace amenities, and continue to provide that higher level of service throughout the community, and not just in some portions.”
Proposed improvements to the parks include playground equipment, additional shade and seating, restroom upgrades, trail repair, solar lights and more.
For the bond proposing to build the city’s ninth fire station, Deputy Chief of Operations for the Las Cruces Fire Department Justin Allen says that its construction will greatly improve response times for emergencies in the Sonoma Ranch area and the Highway 70 corridor.
“So currently what we’re seeing in response times - upwards of 11 to 15 minutes in that area, and this will provide response times of 3 to 5 minutes to that neighborhood in that area,” Allen said.
Should the bond pass, the additional station will hire 12 more personnel to staff the station on a 24-hour basis, and help ease the burden on other stations, improving public safety in the city as a whole.
“You have two stations that are running into that area now station 6 and station 5. So it will decrease the wear and tear on our apparatus on having to travel that amount of distance to get to the area,” Allen said. “We're also seeing increased growth in that area, it’s growing pretty rapidly, so just by getting ahead of the growth that we foresee going out there, it is going to be better overall for the system.”
The city says as the community grows, so does the need for public services. Officials say these bonds allow voters to have a say in the services their community will be receiving.
Absentee and Early voting begin October 11th, and November 8th is election day. Voters can request an absentee ballot through their county clerk’s office, or the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website.