Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Transparency grading process
Las Cruces is one of the five largest cities in New Mexico. Its population is 97,618 as of 2010[1] and its county seat is Dona Ana County. It is located in southern New Mexico.

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of New Mexico city websites


This Web site was most recently evaluated an unknown date.

The good

  • Budget
    • The most current budget is listed.
    • Budgets are archived for 5 years.[2]
  • Administrative Officials
    • Department heads are listed for each department.[3]
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address, phone number, and personalized email.
  • Elected Officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[4]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for 5 years.
    • Meeting agendas are archived for 5 years.
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.[5]
    • Meeting video are available.[6]
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 2008 are available.[7]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and RFPs are posted online.[8]
    • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[9]
  • Public Records
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the City Clerk. This person provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[10]
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state, and local funding in the budget.[11]
    • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning ordinances are posted online.[12]
    • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[13]

The bad

  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are not provided for meetings in 2012.
  • Lobbying
    • If the county engaged in lobbying actives or if it's a member of government lobbying associations are not disclosed. Nor is the total cost lobbying activities or membership dues for associations available.
  • Search Function
    • As of Jan 22, 2013, the search function was not working. It says "Search Engine Loading."

Budget

The 2011-2012 budget expends $299 million which is 5.9% less than the 2010-2011 budget. The document projects $243.7 million in revenue which is $11 million less than 2010-2011.[14]

Expenditure Amount Percent
Utilities $111,475,539 29%
Transfers Out $80,080,336 21%
General Government $33,189,067 9%
Public Safety $38,611,501 10%
Fiscal Agencies $13,789,660 4%
Facilities $27,684,336 7%
Public Works $33,567,982 9%
Public Services $17,488,734 5%
Community Development $10,966,748 3%
Debt Service $12,424,429 3%
Total $379,278,332 100%

Stimulus

After the passage of the federal stimulus bill, the city of Las Cruces requested $177 million of New Mexico's $1.1 billion in aid.[15] According to Stimulus Watch, Las Cruces has received $31,468,434.67 in stimulus money.[16]

Public Employees

Elected Officials

The city council consists of 6 city councillors elected in districts and 1 mayor elected at-large. Both serve staggered four-year terms.[17]

Administrative Officials

The executive branch of city government is made up of the City Manager, Chief Administrative Officer, and Chief Operating Officer. The City Manager is Robert Garza and he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Las Cruces. The Chief Administrative Officer, otherwise known as the Assistant City Manager, is Brian Denmark. The Chief Operating Officer, also considered an Assistant City manager, is Mark Winson.[18]

Garza was one of ten people on Dona Ana County named to be a "mover and shaker" in 2011 by the Las Cruces Sun-News.[19]

Salaries and Benefits

See also: New Mexico state government salary

The 2011-2012 budget allocates $51 million in salaries and benefits which is a $1.6 million increase over 2010-2011.[20]

The city employs 1,502 people of which 1,447 are full time.[21]

Salary information is available in the budget and from the Las Cruces Sun-News.[22][23]

Pensions

See also: New Mexico public pensions

In the 2011-2012 budget, Las Cruces spent $9,290,613 on pension costs for city employees in the Public Employee Retirement Association of New Mexico.[24]

The city website posts a benefits matrix that outlines benefits received by four different types of city employees: unrepresented, blue collar union, police, and fire. The most recent matrix is from August of 2010.[25] The following table outlines the pension (PERA) contribution of employee versus employer.

Employee Type Employee Contribution Employer Contribution
Unrepresented 7.15% 15.15%
Blue Collar Union 10.65% 11.65%
Police (represented) 16.30% 18.50%
Police (unrepresented) 10.30% 24.50%
Fire (represented) 13.4 24.05
Fire (unrepresented 12.2 25.25

Emergency personnel

The city Chief of Police is Richard Williams. He earns a base salary of $100,000 and earns $142,445 with benefits included.[26]

The 2011-2012 budget allocates $38,611,501 to public safety including $17,562,440 to police salaries and benefits.[27]

Lobbying

See also: New Mexico government sector lobbying

Las Cruces has paid for lobbying since 1998. Most recently, Las Cruces spent $40,000 in 2011 on Cornerstone Government Affairs to lobby Congress on the federal budget and appropriations.[28]

Year Amount Spent on Lobbying
2011 $40,000
2010 $80,000
2009 $80,000
2008 $80,000
2007 $40,000
2006 $80,000
2005 $80,000
2004 $40,000
2003 $40,000
2002 $40,000
2001 $40,000
2000 $44,000
1999 $40,000
1998 $40,000
Total $764,000

Transparency & public records

The city has a Public Information Office that handles public records requests and also has strategic plans, city council meetings and agendas, meeting schedules, and the city TV station as resources.[29]

Taxes

The 2011-2012 budget projects $243.7 million in revenue which is $11 million less than 2010-2011.[30]

Revenue Source Percent
Charges for Services 21%
Grants 8%
Property Taxes 4%
Gross Receipts Tax 24%
Transfers 24%
Other 19%

The city council has recently approved new impact fees on new buildings by a vote of 5-2. A new single family home will owe the city $2,133 in new impact fees. The fees are slated to be used for roads, drainage, and public safety.[31]

External links

References