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City council passes emergency powers ordinance

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At a special meeting Friday morning, March 27, the Las Cruces City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that allows the mayor and council to exercise emergency powers through a proclamation.

The term of an emergency proclamation under the ordinance will be for three days. The council can extend the term of the emergency for up to 14 days, at which time an extension or renewal by council vote would be required.

The ordinance becomes effective immediately. If it is invoked, the city council must approve the emergency action taken by the mayor at its next meeting.

“This is something every local government needs to have,” Councilor Gabe Vasquez said.

The ordinance was amended by Vasquez to mandate that the emergency ordinance “shall expire at the end of the current mayor’s term.”

The proclamation includes this language: “When the mayor, or in the event of the mayor’s inability to act, the mayor pro tem, determines in consultation with the emergency manager, chief of police, and/or fire chief that a civil emergency, disaster or emergency exists in the municipality, the mayor may proclaim a state of emergency in the area affected and may also request that the governor proclaim a state of emergency.”

If the mayor declares an emergency, he or she would have the power to: enact a public curfew, prohibit public gatherings, prohibit combustible devices and materials, prohibit the use of certain roadways and control the flow of traffic within the city, require evacuations, prohibit other activities to protect the city, require the city manager to direct city employees to perform emergency functions, require the use of available resources as necessary, utilize non-city personnel and resources to adequately respond to the emergency and, if necessary, to assist in the relocation or return of non-U.S. citizens to their country of citizenship.