Bill aims to revitalize downtown areas across New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There is a renewed call to revitalize downtown areas across the state, from down south in Las Cruces to all the way north in Taos.

Now, there’s a bill making its way through the state Senate to help communities do just that. The sponsors are calling it the Metro Development Act, also known as Senate Bill 251.

The conversations started when smaller communities that wanted to revitalize their downtown areas were running into roadblocks when it came to getting the funding they needed from the state.

So, this bill creates a new revenue stream directly to cities, towns, and villages — but that money will be something already being generated by the jurisdictions. 

If passed, local governments will be able to take 75% of their locally collected gross revenue taxes and state property taxes, and put that money right back into their communities, and not send it off to the state general fund.

Because this bill designates a percentage of what each town brings in through taxes, the amounts will vary from town to town. 

Current estimates say over a 20-year period this bill would bring the Village of Ruidoso $20 million, Las Cruces $145 million, and the City of Albuquerque could bring in an extra $293 million.

Democratic Sen. Carrie Hamblen, a co-sponsor of the bill, says it’s a common-sense solution to a common problem across the state.

“This is really an incredible opportunity not only for cities but for rural communities, main street districts, downtown areas to put that money they are generating back into their own infrastructure, to increase their economic opportunities,” said Hamblen.  

The bill only specifies that this money has to go toward redevelopment projects in downtowns or city centers, but what those projects look like could have a wide range depending on the specific needs of the individual towns.

“So you can use some of that to invest in housing for those local workers who are starting their businesses, to investing in the downtown infrastructure, to investing in those businesses themselves. That is how we diversify our economy, that is how we bring more life and vibrancy to our towns, I especially think this is important for our small towns and villages,” said Democratic state Sen. Kristina Ortez, another co-sponsor of the bill. 

The bill has gained support from large cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe and smaller towns like Ruidoso and Taos.

Track SB 251 during the legislative session.