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New Mexico Municipal League urging legislators to make changes in state law

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"We want tax reform. We want something done. We want something to address the issues around the state of New Mexico," says David Venable about a top legislative priority of the New Mexico Municipal League. Venable, mayor of Cloudcroft, is on the board of the League and the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District. He discussed the tax reform issue at a Friday meeting of the economic district's board of directors. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A change in tax rules and adoption of legislation to secure funding for libraries and police training have been identified as the top priorities of the New Mexico Municipal League.

An association of 106 local governments in the state, the League decided at an Oct. 7 meeting that it will work on several changes in state law at the upcoming legislative session, scheduled to start Jan. 16, according to David Venable, the mayor of Cloudcroft and a board member of both the Municipal League and the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District / Council of Governments.

He talked about the Municipal League’s goals at the Friday meeting of the board of directors of the economic district.

“We basically have four resolutions that were germane to the 30-day session, which is supposed to focus on financial issues,” Venable said.

Two issues are “perennial” legislation regularly supported by the League, Venable said. These include funding for local libraries, with the 2018 proposed legislation calling for an $18 million general obligation bond, and legislation that would have money in the Law Enforcement Protection Fund distributed to law enforcement academies for training programs rather than kept at the state level.

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The other priorities involve changes in tax code, both small and large.

The League passed a resolution indicating that it wants the formation of a study group to develop a comprehensive tax reform plan for the state, including methods for collecting sales tax on internet transaction that would be distributed to both the state and local governments. The League wants to be part of the study group and to have a member of the New Mexico Association of Counties represented as well.

“I laugh because I have been doing this for a little bit of time, and tax reform has been an issue since, I can’t remember when it wasn’t an issue. Some of these mayors and councilors and so forth have been fighting this, working on this, for decades,” Venable said. “So Resolution 2017-17 is, let’s start this study group. … We want tax reform. We want something done. We want something to address the issues around the state of New Mexico.” He said that some of the concerns include ensuring that local governments receive their fair portions of taxes and have authority in decision-making.

The other tax issue concerns a very specific part of the the tax code, Nontaxable Transaction Certificates. According to information from the League, those can be obtained from the state Taxation and Revenue Department so that buyers or lessees can get a discount on taxes due for transactions. The legislation sought by the League would ensure that, if a buyer or lessor wrongly obtained a Nontaxable Transaction Certificate, only the buyer, not the seller or lessee, would be held liable for any taxes due at a later date.

Senior writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.