By Tony Parra
Portales has two windows in which it could hold an election related to beer and wine licenses in 2004.
City officials plan to meet to talk about their options at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 at City Hall.
The earliest an election could be held regarding the beer-wine issue is mid-April. It could also be placed on the ballot one month after the June 1 primary election, so long as it’s on the ballot at least one month prior to the November general election.
Co-interim city manager Joan Martinez-Terry said she talked recently with representatives from the state’s municipal league and learned an election on beer/wine licenses cannot be held in conjunction with most other elections because it is a “local option” issue.
Currently, Portales issues liquor licenses that cost $200,000 annually. But at least one area business — and a couple of businesses that are considering moving to the area — would like to see the city issue less-expensive licenses to sell just beer and wine, officials have said. That license would cost $1,050 per year.
Economic development promoters have said the community might have more opportunity to grow if it issues beer and wine licenses to restaurants.
Placing the issue on a ballot is not a simple procedure, Martinez-Terry said.
“We have to take in consideration that we’ll need some time to order supplies, confer with the scheduling of other elections and prepare for the special election,” she said.
One option is to have the special election in mid-April. This would give the city 42 to 49 days after the March 2 municipal election to hold the special election. The city can also choose to have the election a month or more after the primary elections on June 1, but a month before the presidential election in November.
“There will also be an extra cost on the budget,” Martinez-Terry said about having a special election. “We’re looking at possibly having a mail-in ballot to reduce cost.”
In that scenario, city employees would send out ballots to registered voters and then count the ballots once they’re received. Martinez-Terry is researching the option but neither her nor Roosevelt County Clerk Joyce Fraze has held a mail-in ballot election.
“I believe that San Juan County has done it,” Fraze said. “You can’t do it with the election of a candidate, but you can do it on something like this.”