Public safety projects up for vote in Dona Ana County special election

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The funding for several public safety projects could be decided by Dona Ana County voters on Tuesday.

County commissioners said these projects are vital to the community.

If voters say yes, the county can get the ball rolling on those projects, but what happens if the vote goes against the bonds and tax raise?

"These are basic health and safety response issues," said Dona Ana County Commissioner Karen Perez.

If voters give their approval, the three bond measures would pay for a new call center to meet the demands of a growing county, renovations for the county fairgrounds and the finishing touches for a building to hold animals used as evidence in court cases.

"These are new programs, but they're absolutely vital for the county, and it's fair that they share the cost. I think other gross receipts tax issues that we've had in the past are things maybe people couldn't relate to," Perez said.

Also on the table is a raise in the gross receipts tax equal to 25 cents for every $100 purchase.

The tax would create a steady revenue to fund the 911 center, ambulance services and the Crisis Triage Center.

The triage center is already built, but it needs a source of funding to operate past the first year.

If voters say no?

"Something else will be traded for that. Those will be hard decisions to make. If that's the message from the community of, 'We would rather give up something else so you can handle these priorities', then we hear the message. They'll be making some hard choices over the next year," Perez said.

County officials said so far the voter turnout has been low. Only 2 percent of registered voters came out for early voting.

Election Day is Tuesday. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, click here.

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