Input to the committee was given in some cases by the city staff. That input is detailed in this page.


of the Charter Review Committee



            The following changes were approved by a majority of committee members present at the meeting at which they were discussed.  Objections represent the views of one or more committee members opposed to the proposed change.  Staff input was generally given at the request of the committee to aid in their decision making process.  It may be helpful to reference the current charter when reviewing these recommendations in order to better understand the substance and scope of the change being proposed.


Article I:  Incorporation and Powers


1.                  RECOMMENDATION:  To revise section 1.01 by adding the words “Charter municipalities” after the word “denied.”


Justification:  This change brings the language in the Charter in line with state statute, and reduces possibilities for confusion as to the potential powers of the City. 


            Committee Member Objections:  None.


Staff Input:  None


Article II: City Council


1.             RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 2.06(a) to read “(a) Vacancies: The office of councilor shall become vacant upon the councilor’s death, resignation, recall, moving of residence from the district from which elected, or forfeiture of office. The office of mayor shall become vacant upon the mayor's death, resignation, recall, moving of residence to outside the city limits, or forfeiture of office.”


            Justification- The current language is no longer correct, as the mayor is now elected at-            large by the entire city instead of from a particular district. 


            Committee Member Objections:  None


            Staff Input:  None


2.            RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 2.09(c) by adding “Regulation of the rate charged for its services by a public utility, unless otherwise lawfully delegated to a municipal board of utility commissioners;”


            Justification:  Per the request of the city’s Director of Utilities, this change removes             existing impediments to the creation of a utilities board.


            Committee Member Objections: Certain members feared that such a board would             constitute an elite governing body unresponsive to the public.  Members also mentioned             that City Utilities staff is already very sophisticated and knowledgeable in this area, so             the creation of an independent board is unnecessary.


            Staff Input: This change was proposed to the committee by Utilities Director Dr.            Jorge             Garcia and Assistant City Attorney Marcia Driggers.  This will allow Las Cruces the             possibility of managing the utility in a businesslike way, removed from undue political             influence and create a body more capable of making sophisticated technical decisions


Article IV: Administration


1.            RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 4.05 to read:  “The council shall provide a method for receiving, acknowledging, and resolving complaints or grievances concerning the city or its operations.”


            Justification:  This revision adds the important emphasis that the process for resolving             complaints should include a means of resolution whenever possible.


            Committee Member Objections:  The proposed language ignores the fact that some             claims cannot be resolved and does not specify what would constitute sufficient attempts at             resolution.


            Staff Input:  None.


Article VI: Planning


1.            RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 6.02 to change the last portion (following the word “implementation”) to read, “a complete review and updating of the plan at least every ten (10) years.”


            Justification:  This change adds specificity to the charter, which currently requires                        updating the plan but does not discuss how often such updates will be required.  On out-of- date plan encourages non-compliance.


            Committee Member Objections:  None.


            Staff Input: Vincent Banegas, Community Development said that the period of time             between reviews of the plan needs to be long enough to ensure consistency and give the             plan time to work, but should be frequent enough to ensure consistency with codes and             ordinances.  A ten year time frame could be appropriate in addressing all of these concerns.


2.            RECOMMENDATION:  To amend the second paragraph of section 6.03 to read, “Before taking any action concerning land use or action the council shall cause findings and a report to be made: (a) concerning the relationship between the proposed action and the comprehensive plan and (b) concerning the capital improvements associated with the proposed action and (c) concerning the increased costs and expenses to the city associated with the action and (d) concerning payment for the capital improvements and increased costs.  This report shall detail how the proposed action complies with or does not comply with the comprehensive plan.”


            Justification:  The purpose of this change is to establish visibility into how the             comprehensive plan is or is not being used.  That visibility will add a measure of             accountability to city government. 


            Committee Member Objections:  Certain members of the committee expressed the             opinion that the Committee was micromanaging in areas more appropriately addressed by             codes and ordinances.  Other members added that this proposal is redundant to current             practice, as city staff already explains why requests for re-zoning are being made.


            Staff Input:  None.


Article VII. City Elections


1.            RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 7.02(a): Petitions to read “Candidates for election to the council or to the office of mayor shall be nominated by petition. A person may be nominated for election as a councilor within the district in which he or she is a qualified resident voter by a petition signed by not less than one hundred (100) qualified voters residing within the district which the candidate seeks to represent. A person may be nominated for election as mayor by a petition signed by not less than five hundred (500) qualified voters residing in the city limits of the City of Las Cruces. Nominating petitions shall be accompanied by the circulator's affidavit. The council shall prescribe the form and format of the petition and all related documents. The city clerk shall provide petition forms and related forms to those requesting them”


            Justification:  This change is needed to discourage non-serious candidates and in light of                   projected growth in the City.


            Committee Member Objections:  Requiring additional signatures will make the petition             process too difficult and discourage individuals from running for office.


Staff Input:  City Clerk Shirley Clark submitted a memo (attachment #1) outlining the increase of signatures and logistical issues with completing certification of the petitions.


2.            RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 7.02(b)  to replace “the forty second (42nd) day” with “the fifty sixth (56th) day,” so that the new Section 7.02(b) reads:  “(b): Filing: All separate papers comprising a nominating petition shall be assembled and filed as one instrument on the fifty sixth (56th) day before the election. If a candidate's representative files the nominating petition, the petition shall be accompanied by an affidavit so certifying. No nominating petition shall be accepted unless accompanied by a signed acceptance of the nomination by the candidate. The candidate or the candidate's authorized representative shall file the candidate's petition with the city clerk, who shall record the exact time at which each petition is filed.”


            Justification:  In response to the City Clerk’s above mentioned concern, this proposal             would give the clerk an additional 14 days to certify signatures. 


            Committee Member Objections:  None.


Staff Input:  City Clerk Shirley Clark said this would lengthen the time to certify the petitions by fourteen days.   


3.            RECOMMENDATION:  Revise section 7.02(c) to replace “within five (5) working days” to “within fifteen (15) working days.”


            Justification:  In response to the City Clerk’s concern, this proposal would give the clerk             an additional two working weeks to certify signatures.


            Committee Member Objections:  None.


Staff Input:  City Clerk Shirley Clark said this would lengthen the time to certify the petitions by fourteen days.   


4.         RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 7.02(d) Filing for position of municipal judge to read:  “(d) Filing for position of municipal judge: A person who meets the qualifications for municipal judge may file for that position on the fifty sixth (56th) day before the election in the year the position is to be on the ballot. A candidate shall file for the position by declaring his/her candidacy to the city clerk.”


            Justification:  This change is needed to bring this section in line with proposed changes to             section 7.02(b).


            Committee Member Objections: None.


            Staff Input:  None

5.            RECOMMENDATION:  Add the following sentence to the end of section 7.05(a), “In the event that an instant runoff election is implemented, every qualified voter within the district shall be entitled to vote in rank order for multiple candidates for any contested office,” and to further add “the runoff election may be conducted in the instant runoff manner employing rank-order ballots.” to the end of the first paragraph in section 7.05(c).

            Justification:  Instant run off elections may someday be desirable as they save the city       money by requiring only one election and ensure maximum participation, since voter             turnout is generally much higher in the general election.

            Committee Member Objections:  Instant run off voting has only been tried in a very few             locations, and would have to be explained in detail to the electorate before being put into             use. 

            Staff Input:  When asked, City Attorney informed the committee that the legality of this             proposal does not appear to be an issue, but that implementing it could be problematic.


Article VIII. Initiative, Referendum and Recall


1.            RECOMMENDATION:  Add the following “Editor’s Note” to the end of Sections 8.01(a) and 8.01(b):  In 1996 the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled, in Johnson v. Alamogordo,  that only “legislative” ordinances are subject to initiative and referendum.


            Justification:  This is needed to clarify what subject matter is excluded from the local             initiative rights of the public.  The original language implies that all matters are eligible for             local initiative.  And, when the public is told they cannot initiate administrative actions,             they feel they have been misled by city government – since the charter does not correctly             state the actual situation.  This addition was deemed more appropriate than a change that       would have incorporated the decision in the case into the provisions of the charter.


            Committee Member Objections: None.


Staff Input:  City Clerk Shirley Clark said that this is an administrative change that would be addressed by the clerk in the codification process.


2.            RECOMMENDATION: To replace the first sentence in section 8.03 with “Initiative and referendum petitions must be signed by qualified resident voters of the City equal in number to at least seven point five percent (7.5%) of the total number of registered voters residing within the city limits of the City of Las Cruces, and no more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the signatures shall come from one district.”, adding “with no more than twenty-five percent (25%) from any one district.” to the current final sentence, and adding a new final sentence to read, “The total number of registered voters residing within the city limits shall be determined by the City Clerk on the day of petition filing.” 


            Justification:  The current requirements for initiative and referendum are based on voter             turnout, which could vary greatly from one election to the next.  By relying on the number             of registered voters, this change will provide stability.  Under this proposal initiative and             referendum are likely to be more difficult, as more signatures may be requires, but the             additional level of difficulty will ensure that only significant public issues are put before             the voters and keep irresponsible initiatives and referenda from passing.  Furthermore, the             limitation that no more than 25% of signatures may come from any one district ensures             that initiative and referenda are only attempted for matters of citywide interest.


            Committee Member Objections:  Certain members of the committee expressed the view     that this proposal will             discourage initiative and referendum, and that the number of             signatures required will be too burdensome under the proposed language.


            Staff Input:  City Clerk Shirley Clark noted once again that this would increase the             number of signatures to be certified by the Clerk’s office.


Article IX. Municipal Court


1.            RECOMMENDATION:  Revise Section 9.01(a) to read: “The municipal court shall have jurisdiction over all petty misdemeanor offenses and complaints under ordinances of the City of Las Cruces and may issue subpoenas and warrants and punish for contempt.”


Justification:  This clarifies the point that the municipal court has jurisdiction only over petty misdemeanors, as other classes of offenses are dealt with by other courts.


Committee Member Objections:  Certain members of the committee believed this change to be unnecessary, as the jurisdiction of the courts is set forth in other places, and as the court cannot exercise jurisdiction unless it has the legal right to do so.


Staff Input:  City Attorney Fermin Rubio noted that the jurisdiction of municipal courts is limited by state law and the State Constitution. 


2.            RECOMMENDATION:  Make the following changes to section 9.02:  replace the word “a” with the word “each” at the beginning of section 9.02(a); replace the words “more than 1 judge” with the words “additional judges”; and insert a new section 9.02(d) to read: Elections shall be on a staggered basis and shall be held in the manner provided in Article VII. 


Justification:  This change clarifies current practice.


Committee Member Objections:  Certain members of the committee argued that this change was unnecessary.


Staff Input:  None.




The following is a complete list of sections with proposed changes and the date that proposals were adopted by the committee (as reflected in the minutes).


Section:                                                                       Date Change Adopted:

1.01                                                                             May 25

2.06(a)                                                                         June 1

2.09                                                                             May 18

4.05                                                                             May 4

6.02                                                                             April 13

6.03                                                                             April 13

7.02(a)                                                                         March 23

7.02(d)                                                                         April 27

8.01                                                                             May 11

8.03                                                                             May 4

9.01                                                                             May 4

9.02(a)(b)&(d)                                                            May 11