At its Tuesday, September 8 regularly scheduled meeting the Las Cruces Council unanimously adopted a resolution to approve a budget adjustment of $500,000 to the City of Las Cruces’ adopted 2021 fiscal year budget for extraordinary pay for City employees who are emergency responders or critical infrastructure workers in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The Council’s action will affect approximately 800 City employees who will be eligible for a one-time payment. Emergency responders who work for the City include law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, Public Works Department personnel, and facility operators. Critical infrastructure workers include transportation employees, custodians, Information Technology workers, and energy and municipal government support personnel.
The Resolution can be accessed here.
The City has not passed any measures to increase pay for essential employees who were asked to keep working with the public during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The Resolution approves a budget adjustment to the City’s adopted 2021 Fiscal Year budget and will provide $500,000 from the Telshor Fund for a one-time allotment for emergency responders and critical infrastructure workers that qualify and are considered essential through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and CDC guidelines.
The one-time, extraordinary pay will be administered through a City Manager operational policy to be developed. The City’s Human Resources Department, with assistance from the Office of the City Manager and Department Directors, developed a database on April 17, 2020, of emergency responders and critical infrastructure workers that will be used to determine who is qualified under the proposed City Manager operational policy.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the seven members of City Council also unanimously adopted a Resolution to name the Las Cruces Utilities Water Quality Lab, at 2845 W. Amador Ave., the Jorge A. Garcia Water Quality Lab, in honor of Garcia, who retired in late August after a nearly 31-year career with the City of Las Cruces.
Garcia, who earned a doctorate degree in Civil Engineering, served as the City’s Utilities Director from 2001 until his retirement. He began his career with Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) in November 1989 as a design engineer.
A certified Professional Engineer in New Mexico and Colorado, Dr. Garcia was instrumental in establishing the LCU Board of Commissioners, and the City’s utility rate-setting processes. He also oversaw the construction of the Griggs/Walnut Water Treatment Facility. He also had an important role in the City’s acquisition of Jornada Water Company and the associated water rights.
Dr. Garcia also was extensively involved in the Texas vs. New Mexico and Colorado Water lawsuit as well as in the Consent Decree Settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. National Guard, related to the Griggs/Walnut Superfund Project. During his distinguished City of Las Cruces career, Dr. Garcia instructed, mentored, inspired, and supported hundreds of LCU associates, interns, students, officials, and partners.
City Council removed a resolution supporting the inclusion of immigrants in the 2020 U.S. Census count and reapportionment from the consent agenda for discussion. The resolution was subsequently unanimously approved
Tuesday’s meeting was the first for new City Manager Ifo Pilli, who began his new duties on Tuesday.