Public Records

It is the law that public records can be accessed by citizens. The Inspection of Public Record Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies.

See this website for information about this law and the NM Open Meetings Act.

Each state varies slightly in the procedures used to gain access to public documents. This article serves to describe specifically the steps used in New Mexico.

Hidalgo County Government

All the county government offices are in the county seat of Lordsburg. Most offices are in the County Courthouse at 300 Shakespeare. 

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NM County Government

Each NM county is governed by commissioners elected for two-year terms.

Other county officers include the clerk, assessor, treasurer, surveyor, sheriff, and probate judge.

Municipalities are incorporated as cities, towns, or villages. As of 2002, there were 101 municipalities, 96 public school districts, and 628 special districts in New Mexico.

County Government

Governmental Activities

There are two main categories of governmental activities at the county level:

Direct Controls

Sectors of the economy such as public utilities. Government may regulate these sectors.

Consumption Services

Provision of services such as recreation, transportation, health, and education.

Each American county is unique, possessing its peculiar populations and organizations of governing bodies. There are over 3,000 active U.S. County Governments. Texas has the most counties at 254 and Delaware has only three.  New Mexico is divided into 33 counties.

Nationwide, the governing body of the county is most often called a Board of County Commissioners. Other names are Board of Supervisors, Commissioners Court, and Fiscal Court (among others). Members can be elected by district or at large. Service periods are determined by the county.

Functions of Government

County governments traditionally include law enforcement, levy and collection of property taxes, election oversight, legal systems, road construction and maintenance, legal document record, and indigent healthcare. counties may have additional responsibilites in areas such as parks and recreation; hospitals, libraries, airports, and recreational areas; weed and predator control; fire protection; sewer and water systems, utilities; regulation of liquor license and sales; housing and redevelopment authority; waste management; and emergency preparedness.

New Mexico Counties

The first counties in New Mexico were established in 1837 and were governed by a prefect. During Spanish-Mexican rule, the number increased. When the U.S. took over jurisdiction of the territory in 1846, county lines continued to change. Around 1878, prefects were replaced by boards of county commissioners. 

New Mexico law stipulates the powers and functions of county officials. Counties are seen as subdivisions of the state, so they must operate within state statutes. The county powers must align with those granted by New Mexico law.