Home News Local News Voters in Eddy County reject two sales tax increases

Voters in Eddy County reject two sales tax increases

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Eddy County residents have said no to a couple of gross receipt tax increases.

Eddy County District 2 Commissioner Jon Henry said the sentiment of Eddy County voters is clear after voters widely rejected two sales tax increases that had been passed by the Eddy County Commission this summer. The negative referendum votes block two gross receipt tax increases from being imposed on Eddy County residents. (Mike Smith Photo)

The Eddy County Clerk’s Office added the results from the mail-in election Tuesday and the official numbers show that 5,745 residents turned down a one-eighth of 1 percent increase in sales taxes that would have taken care of needs at the Eddy County Detention Center in Carlsbad. More than 1,000 people voted for the measure.

According to the Eddy County website, the jail is in need of major repairs and 15 staff positions have been frozen. One former Eddy County commissioner is concerned how the jail will take care of business.

“(The) detention center … that ain’t gonna go away,” said Commissioner Royce Pearson.

Pearson said the county is going to have to find the money somewhere. One possible solution is securing a loan from the state.

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“Taxpayers would have to pay for it,” Pearson said.

The other tax question on the mail-in ballot called for a one-eighth of 1 percent GRT increase in Eddy County to go to the general fund. The official results show that nearly 6,000 said no, while more than 1,100 said yes.

The tax increases were passed earlier this year by the Eddy County Commission. That set off a protest by many county residents who said the County Commission didn’t offer enough input from the public. A petition drive ensued and county officials put together the mail-in ballot.

“Circumventing the Board of Commissioners rubs me the wrong way,” Pearson said.

“When we were discussing this from the get-go, I wanted the public to have a voice in what was going on,” said District 2 County Commissioner Jon Henry. “Their vote was heard (Tuesday) night.”

State Rep. Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, said in a statement the will of Eddy County voters is very clear.

“In an overwhelming response (about) 83 percent of the voters in all the communities affected soundly rejected the new taxes,” Townsend said. “The rejection was after an intensive effort on both parties to educate the voters on the issues at hand. I applaud the effort of including the voters and I am sure the Eddy County Commission will find a way to reduce expenditures in areas where they can so that they may provide required services. I think that is exactly what most New Mexico voters want, a reduction in expenditures, not higher taxes.”

Paul Gessing, the head of the Albuquerque-based Rio Grande Foundation free-market think tank, said his group followed the Eddy County election.

Gessing said liberal Santa Fe County and conservative Eddy County have something in common. He points to Santa Fe residents saying no to a soda tax and a gross receipts tax increase.

“Tax increases are pretty unpopular these days in the state of New Mexico,” Gessing said. “People remain concerned and frustrated by the state of New Mexico economy.”

Gessing adds that state leaders should pay attention to the votes in Santa Fe and Eddy counties and that voters are in no mood for tax increases.

The Eddy County Clerk’s Office says more than 30,000 residents were eligible to vote and more than 7,300 mailed back their ballots. The Eddy County Commission signed off on the referendum results Wednesday morning in Carlsbad.