In a move to help Las Cruces businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Las Cruces City Council on Monday, December 7, approved a 12-month moratorium on collecting the full amount of the city’s business registration fees.
The Council adopted a Resolution to establish a reduced fee from January 1 through Dec. 31, 2021. The annual fee will drop from $35 to $5 whenever a business registers for the first time or renews its annual registration during 2021, said Dr. Griselda Martinez, director of the City’s Economic Development Department.
“This will make a positive impact on nearly 3,000 businesses that have been struggling since the pandemic began last March,” Martinez said. “Lowering the cost is a goodwill gesture to help those who have faced unprecedented financial constraints.”
The recommendation to reduce the annual fee was generated by the Las Cruces Economic Recovery Ad Hoc Board (LCERB), a group of local business owners, representatives from non-profit organizations, and the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce who were tasked by the Mayor and City Council to brainstorm ways to gradually reopen Las Cruces in a safe manner. The 11-member group meets regularly to also consider options aimed at strengthening the economy smartly and effectively, Martinez said.
“It’s so important to do all that we can to help our business community during this time,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kasandra Gandara during the Council meeting. “I want to thank the members of the committee — I’m very grateful to them.”
Councilor Johana Bencomo echoed the sentiment and also thanked the Economic Development Department and its various programs for implementing ways to support those who have been struggling. In particular, she mentioned the fee reduction will benefit “the small mom-and-pop shops that are hurting. It shows when we come together, we can come up with good, creative solutions,” Bencomo said.
Martinez said the fees collected from businesses within the city limits generates revenue for the city Community Development budget. In turn, a portion of those funds are earmarked for continued business-supported initiatives, such as the one-stop-shop approach that provides services from permit technicians, inspectors, and building officials.
Martinez said although it’s expected the moratorium will reduce incoming revenue by approximately $70,000 to $80,000 during the year, the end result will be invaluable.
“This one-time reduction of city revenue is well worth any gains that will be made on the side of business owners,” Martinez said.
This is the second major initiative recommended by LCERB to the Mayor and City Council. The first was the launch of the Las Cruces Safe Promise, a good-faith promise that community members can make to follow COVID-Safe practices.
“I’m excited to see yet another recommendation from this board,” Bencomo said.
“Participating in our community promise is a way to show that all individual actions count and that those who make the promise will keep themselves and others safe to help build and restore consumer confidence that Las Cruces is safe for everyone – including businesses, their employees, and their customers,” Martinez added.
The city’s Economic Development Department is primarily responsible for driving economic growth in Las Cruces. The department is composed of six different programs: administration, business development, destination downtown, land management, and real estate services, the Las Cruces International Airport and Visit Las Cruces, which each contribute to the economic vitality of the city.
For information about business registration fees, call the Economic Development Department at 575/541-2425.