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Dona Ana County, New Mexico

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Budget
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Transparency grading process

Dona Ana County is one of 33 counties in New Mexico. As of 2010, the population was 209,233[1] and is the second fastest growing county in New Mexico.[2] Its county seat is Las Cruces, also the largest city in the county and second-largest in New Mexico. Smaller towns in the county include Mesilla, Doña Ana, Hatch, and Organ.

The county website was ranked eighth best by The Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties for counties with a population under 250,000.[3]

Website evaluation

The good

  • Current and past budgets and audits are available[4]
  • All meeting agendas and notices are posted online.[5]
  • Contact information for elected officials is available.[6]
  • Videos of the meetings are posted.[7]
  • The Dona Ana website contains an Audit Hotline link.
  • Property tax rates are posted along with a tax calculator and the ability to pay property taxes online.[8][9]

The bad

  • No budgets and audits from before 2008 or narrative and graphic information explaining the budget.
  • No election information is provided for elected officials.
  • Meeting minutes are not available.
  • Only property tax information is provided on the website.[10]
  • The website contains no information regarding about who to contact or how to file for public records.


Budget

The 2011-2012 budget is not posted. The 2010-2011 budget is $43,034,171.96 and the largest expenditure is the Sheriff's Department at $12,445,274.62. The revenue estimate is $40,597,801.29.[11]

Stimulus

Dona Ana county has received $212,599,372 from the federal stimulus package.[12]

Type # of Awards Amount Reported Jobs
Contracts 94 $83,263,254 128.64
Grants 124 $129,336,117 128.32
Loans 0 $0 0
Total 218 $212,599,372 256.96

Public Employees

Elected Officials

The County Commission is made up of five members representing individual districts. It acts as the legislative body.[13]

First Last Position District
Billy Garrett Commissioner 1
Dolores Saldana-Caviness Chair 2
Karen Perez Vice-Chair 3
Scott Krahling Commissioner 4
Leticia Duarte-Benavidez Commissioner 5
Jess Williams Community Liaison
Andy Segovia County Assessor
Lynn Ellins County Clerk
Alice Salcido Probate Judge
Todd Garrison Sheriff
David Gutierrez County Treasurer

Administrative Officials

Salaries

See also: New Mexico state government salary

Dona Ana County gave blue collar county workers and members of the American Federation of State, Local and Municipal Employees a 0.6 percent pay increase. The raise covers 109 positions. This raise brings the total raise to 3% since January 2009.[14]

Pensions

See also: New Mexico public pensions

Public employees in Dona Ana County are enrolled in the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico (PERA). The table below outlines the contribution levels by the employee and by the County.

PERA Plan Employee County
Municipal 3 3.287% 19.013%
Police 5 16.3% 18.5%
Fire 5 16.2% 21.25%

Emergency personnel

The 2010-2011 budget allocates $12,445,274.62 for law enforcement at the Sheriff's Office and $3,472,187.94 for support at the Sheriff's Office.[15]

Lobbying

See also: New Mexico government sector lobbying

According to OpenSecrets, Dona Ana County spent $30,000 on lobbying in 2011 and $200,000 in the last ten years. In 2011, they paid lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Assoc $30,000 to lobby Congress and two federal departments on Fed Budget & Appropriations and Aviation, Airlines & Airports.[16] One of the Senate lobbying reports for Dona Ana can be found here.

Year Amount Spent on Lobbying
2011 $30,000
2010 $60,000
2009 $60,000
2008 $20,000
2003 $10,000
2002 $20,000
Total $200,000

Transparency & public records

The county Director of Public Information & Special Projects is Jess Williams. He handles all public records requests.[17]

As of July 2011, the amendments to the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (“IPRA”) go into effect. The summary of the changes can be found here.

The county is providing the public with information regarding the redistricting process.[18]

Taxes

Below is a table containing property tax rates for various parts of Dona Ana County.[19]

TAX DISTRICT CLASS 2009 2010 % DIFFERENCE
02 (Las Cruces-In) Residential 0.027303 0.027868 2.07%
02 (Las Cruces-In) Non-residential 0.032275 0.032666 1.21%
03 (Las Cruces-Out) Residential 0.022272 0.022812 2.42%
03 (Las Cruces-Out) Non-residential 0.026260 0.026645 1.47%
04 Mesilla Residential 0.022966 0.023508 2.36%
04 Mesilla Non-residential 0.028160 0.028724 2.00%
11 (Hatch-In) Residential 0.030181 0.030571 1.29%
11 (Hatch-In) Non-residential 0.033536 0.033945 1.22%
12 (Hatch-Out) Residential 0.025305 0.025791 1.92%
12 (Hatch-Out) Non-residential 0.029270 0.029642 1.27%
16 (Sunland Park-In) Residential 0.032017 0.032465 1.40%
16 (Sunland Park-In) Non-residential 0.036538 0.037258 1.97%
17 Unincorporated (Anthony/Chaparral) Residential 0.029093 0.029644 1.89%
17 Unincorporated (Anthony/Chaparral) Non-residential 0.033108 0.033483 1.13%
*18 Incorporated (Anthony) Residential 0.029093 0.029644 1.89%
*18 Incorporated (Anthony) Non-residential 0.033108 0.033483 1.13%

A map of the school tax districts is provided here.

External links

References