The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kevin Wilson
Editor 

Clovis officials take step toward expanding economic development

 

Last updated 11/21/2020 at 3:02pm



CLOVIS — The city of Clovis has taken the first step in expanding taxpayer-funded economic development to retail businesses.

However, many steps remain following an 8-0 resolution approval at the City Commission’s Thursday virtual meeting.

Mayor Mike Morris said in his first days as mayor with the COVID-19 pandemic just beginning, he asked city administration what could be done for local retailers affected by state-mandated closures to mitigate virus spread.

He discovered Local Economic Development Act money — taxpayer funds not bound by the state’s antidonation clause — could not benefit retail businesses in municipalities with populations higher than 35,000.

A bill to change that, Morris said, didn’t get onto the Legislature's June special session and he is hopeful another effort in the 2021 regular session sponsored by Sens. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, and Elizabeth Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, is successful.

The resolution would allow municipalities of 35,000 or larger population to use up to 25% of its LEDA funding for “expansion of existing retail business or recruitment of new retail business if the economic development project is not funded or financed with state government revenues; provided that no funding shall be provided to an existing retail business to relocate from another location in New Mexico if the business does not remain in its previous location in New Mexico.”

Should the measure pass both houses and be signed by the governor, the city would still need to put the measure to voters. That would likely happen in a special election, since the next municipal election is still 16 months away.

“It has a long way to go,” Morris said, “but it's been a long way already.”

Morris said he would share the resolution with other mayors in order to show “a tremendous amount of support from around the state.”

Commissioners all spoke briefly in support of the resolution, with Commissioner Leo Lovett saying he has seen LEDA benefit retail in smaller communities.

In other business at the Thursday meeting, commissioners approved a list of six capital outlay requests as its priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

The priorities were Seventh Street repairs ($4.5 million), a new Animal Control building ($1 million), a new parking lot at Dickenson Field ($230,000), Hillcrest Park playground equipment ($75,000), a Norris Street mill and fill ($1 million-$1.5 million) and Martin Luther King Boulevard work ($5 million).

Commissioner Helen Casaus said she wanted to see if street lighting could be added. Assistant City Manager Claire Burroughes said she wasn’t sure if street lights would qualify as capital outlay expenses, and City Manager Justin Howalt said the inequity of street lighting throughout the city is rooted in developer requirements. Most of the older developments, Howalt said, didn’t have street lights because the developers weren’t required to provide it at the time.

Commissioner Fidel Madrid, who requested adding MLK, said he has seen less deserving roads receive funding and didn’t want Norris Street to leapfrog it on the priority list. Commissioner Juan Garza said Norris Street has seen more traffic and has the higher need, a contention Madrid disputed.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Dec. 1.

 
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