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Mesilla considering colonias designation

The town of Old Mesilla is known for its history and tourism, but what about poverty?

Town officials say through the State Colonias Act, they can self designate as a colonia to get federal aid.

“With our annual budget being at $1.4 million and our need being over to $10 million dollars, that says a lot ,” Town Clerk Cynthia Hernandez said.

Hernandez said state funding is rapidly declining for the historic community, and that’s why they’re considering self-designating certain portions as a colonia. A colonia is a community that lacks proper infrastructure, roads and water lines.

“Instead of it being a stigma, a colonia, consider it being tool for us to gain more funding to be able to help our residents that need it the most ,” Hernandez said.

When many think of Old Mesilla, they think of the tourism, Billy the Kid and the town’s wonderful history, but behind the scenes, 30% of the population is living in poverty.

While tourists we spoke with didn’t have a problem with the idea, residents were fearful.

“It will lower our prices of value in our houses,” resident Mary Navarez said. “There’s no need for that.”

But Hernandez says federal aid would make a difference, rather then have taxpayers foot the bill.

“The mayor has really taken a stance that she doesn’t want to raise taxes unless she absolutely has to,” Hernandez said. “She doesn’t want to hit the residents pocket books unless she has to.”

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