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County questions August tax revenues; Finance head wonders why funds were about $255,000 less than expected

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Chaves County Finance Director Joe Sedillo says some local governments are pressuring the state to provide more information related to gross receipts tax disbursements. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Chaves County officials say that they have some concern about the information and gross receipts taxes they have received from the state.

County Finance Director Joe Sedillo said that the gross receipts tax revenues the county received recently from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department is not as high as the county was expecting.
The county received $944,850, Sedillo said during the Aug. 17 meeting of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners, about $255,000 less than expected.
“I had anticipated that we would do as much as $1.2 (million) to $1.3 million, simply because of the hail (damage repair) that we received and are still in the process, not only from autos but from the roofing industry,” Sedillo said. “But we haven’t seen those particular numbers and because of that, compared to last year, we are down 11 percent.”
In general, gross receipts taxes are paid by government or business enterprises that sell items or services, lease or sell property, charge for admission to events or sell franchises. The rates are based on taxes imposed by state government, municipal governments and county governments. Typically, customers pay the taxes, which the service or business then forwards to the state, which then disperses the local government’s portions back to counties and cities.
August disbursements would have been for June business activity reported and paid to the state in July, according to the Taxation and Revenue Department website.

The state website indicates that the county received $1.067 million this time last year, in August 2016. The city of Roswell received $2.63 million for gross receipts taxes in August 2017, compared to $3.26 million in August of the previous year.
At this point, Sedillo said, it is not clear why the noticeable increase in business activity regarding roof repairs and auto repairs following the mid-May hail storms did not translate into increased tax revenues.
He explained that the financial reports provided by the state to counties do not provide enough data to analyze exactly why there was a decrease in tax revenues, rather than the expected increase.
“I have always been a proponent of trying to get as much data, down to the individual businesses,” Sedillo said. “But we don’t have access to that, perhaps in the future.’
Sedillo and others at the meeting indicated their awareness of the complaints by other government entities.
The Taxation and Revenue Department indicated in June that it would conduct an internal audit to determine whether disbursements to Albuquerque have been accurate over the past years, according to an Albuquerque Journal article. That followed complaints by that city and several others that belong to the New Mexico Municipal League about concerns over disbursements.
“There is a great concern over the amount of data and how the data is disseminated back to the counties,” said Sedillo. ”They are trying to keep on top of that and keeping the pressure on.”
Senior writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.