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Suit against state could grow to class-action; Artesia mayor says millions in gross receipts have been withheld from communities

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Burch

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

ARTESIA — A lawsuit involving the city of Artesia and four other municipalities in New Mexico against the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department is expected to draw more people.

Artesia Mayor Phil Burch briefed the Artesia City Council Tuesday night on the suit that also has Farmington, Moriarty, Bloomfield and Jal as plaintiffs.

“We had a conference call last Friday,” he said.

Afterward, City Clerk Aubrey Hobson offered more details.

“The discussion was whether the five municipalities should remain in the lawsuit by themselves or if we should open it for other cities and counties to join,” Hobson said.

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He said if others join, it could make it a class-action lawsuit.

At issue are millions of dollars that have been withheld from communities by the state.

Hobson said if it was just the five communities in the lawsuit then there could be retribution from the TRD.

He said if more groups get involved, then there’s a chance that more money could be given out.

“We agreed at that time to see if we could get some of the larger cities to join and form a class-action suit,” Hobson said.

Mayor Burch said the New Mexico Municipal League and the New Mexico Association of Counties could also join the battle royale against the state.

“It was something that the council knows, this has been a growing thing,” he said.

Burch added,”It started three years ago, we have seen our gross receipts (payments) extremely erratic. We received one check and expected about $1.5 million.”

Instead, Burch said, Artesia got around $500,000 and he said he had a meeting with the TRD head and explained “that the impact it has on a small community, that is your livelihood, that gross receipts check that comes in each month between the 15th and the 17th, and to get one expecting $1 million and get half-a-million, if this council hadn’t been extremely conservative and built a general fund base, we couldn’t have made the payroll a couple of times in the last three years.”

Burch said Farmington has also taken some major hits as well.

“It’s something we’ve been involved in, it’s going to grow bigger. A suit will be filed shortly and we’ll let a judge figure it out,” Burch said.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.