- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Officials in Dona Ana County have halted a bid to incorporate the border town of Santa Teresa.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports (https://bit.ly/1PZs013) that the opponents of the incorporation effort included the nearby city of Sunland Park.

Sunland Park City Councilor Ken Giove said the incorporation would fragment the communities.

“We need to be one voice speaking for the entire area,” he said. “Our intent was to sit down and try to establish a dialogue with Santa Teresa. Working together is in everybody’s best interests.”

Supporters of the incorporation effort argued they had to show only evidence that Sunland Park couldn’t adequately provide services to Santa Teresa if Santa Teresa was folded into Sunland Park.

But Sunland Park officials contended that Santa Teresa residents had to meet other requirements, meaning Santa Teresa residents would first have to petition Sunland Park for an annexation into that city and be denied or seek a letter of support from Sunland Park showing that the city was in favor of the incorporation.

“They don’t qualify, as they’re not under a petition to be annexed,” said County Commission member Ben Rawson. “That’s my reading of the law.”

It’s unclear whether incorporation proponents will take the issue to court.

“Everybody has their own perspective on it,” said incorporation proponent Mary Gonzalez. “We feel it was not adequate.”

Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea said Sunland Park already provides some fire and police services to Santa Teresa, even though it’s outside the city limits. Santa Teresa’s water and wastewater services are provided by the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority, which took over tens of millions of dollars in assets once owned by Sunland Park and Dona Ana County independently, he said.

If Santa Teresa were to incorporate, it would be “competing for resources from the state Legislature, competing for the same grants and the same tax base,” he said.

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Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, https://www.lcsun-news.com

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