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TO THE EDITOR:

There is bad news on the horizon even after the County Commission passed their interim budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 on Tuesday.

This budget cuts the amount of reimbursement for services to Artesia’s police, fire, recreation and senior centers to less than half, from $360,000 to $150,000. A request to reconsider was essentially ignored. Your City Council will cope with this cut, but another even more onerous threat is coming.

On Thursday, May 25, the Commission will hold a special meeting with the intent to pass not one but three different tax ordinances. All are Gross Receipts Taxes (GRTs), more commonly referred to as “sales taxes.”

Approval will cause the sales tax rate in Artesia to go to 8.1458 percent, clearly the highest in Southeast New Mexico, a whopping 88.8-percent increase in the County’s portion of the GRT rate. This is outrageous and should be opposed by all taxpayers in Eddy County.

Of the three ordinances being considered, only one can be justified. The .0833-percent GRT will be used for the Safety Net Care Pool Payment to the State of New Mexico. This is a program formerly funded by the State that the County now has to fund.

The other two tax ordinances are clearly being promoted by the County Manager and the Commissioners. One is for .125 percent dedicated to the Detention Center in Carlsbad. The other is for .125 percent that will go to the General Fund and be spent on anything the Commission desires.

If passed, all of these will be effective Jan. 1, 2018, and will raise our sales tax rate to 8.1458 percent. The County’s portion will go from .3750 percent to .7083 percent (+88.8 percent).
In recent months, virtually all of the municipalities and counties in New Mexico are struggling, but I haven’t heard of one city or county increasing their GRT by 88.8 percent.

Eddy County taxpayers should not stand by and accept this. These draconian measures aren’t necessary when four-day workweeks have been recently implemented, all county employees are receiving raises, and some agencies are receiving significant budget increases. These moves do not represent good use of taxpayer dollars.

Please make your views known to the County Manager and Commissioners and, if at all possible, attend the Commission meeting Thursday, May 25.

Phil Burch
Mayor, City of Artesia

Eddy County Commission Contact Information

• Jon Henry: Artesia, District 2, 575-921-4878, [email protected]
• Larry Wood: Artesia, District 3, 575-361-1335, [email protected]
• Stella Davis: Carlsbad, District 4, Commission Chairman, 575-361-3201, [email protected]
• Susan Crockett: Carlsbad, District 5, Commission Co-Chair, 575-361-4695, [email protected]
• James Walterscheid: Carlsbad, District 1, 575-200-6294, [email protected]
• Rick Rudometkin: County Manager, 575-887-9511, ext. 2002, [email protected]
• Kenney Rayroux: Assistant County Manager, 575-887-9511, ext. 2002, [email protected]