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County commissioners nix tax rebate

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Group votes to hold February hearing about new rural addressing system

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday not to enact a property tax rebate for low-income residents.

In other action, the five commissioners approved holding a public hearing during their next meeting to consider adopting a new rural addressing system. That meeting is now scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 18.

The commissioners voted against a rebate ordinance without discussion after requests for public comment did not turn up anyone at the meeting or online wanting to speak.

County staff had opposed the rebate, but a state law enacted in 1994 requires that local governments collecting property taxes that do not have a low-income property tax rebate hold a public hearing in January of every odd year to determine if public interest exists in the rebate.

The rebate would be available only to certain county residents earning $24,000 or less a year in terms of modified gross income.

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Interim County Manager Bill Williams read the introduction to the discussion, which outlined the county staff’s opposition.

One argument against the rebate was that residents would receive a rebate only for the city and county portion of collected taxes, not for the state, public school or bond levy portions.

Another was that the county would still have to pay the rebated amounts, but it could hold a special election to ask voters whether they wanted to approve a 1 mill property tax increase to cover the rebated portions. A third contention was that the rebate is based on reported income to the state, which the county said could be manipulated.

The rebate has never been enacted in Chaves County. It is currently adopted by Los Alamos and Santa Fe counties, according to a spokesman for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department.

A new rural addressing system would benefit emergency responders, county property inspectors, mail and package delivery agencies, and residents, Chaves County Planning and Zoning Director Louis Jaramillo told commissioners.

“During our census, we found that a huge number of residents don’t post their addresses anywhere,” he said. “You could go down a road probably half a mile and not find an address anywhere, and that makes it difficult for many of us, including us that aren’t law enforcement but just out inspecting. We see something suspicious, but we don’t know what the address is. We just know what the road is, and we have to sit there and describe where we are at.”

He said the county wants to repeal the existing rural addressing ordinance and replace it with a new one that will adopt what he called a “simplistic” system, as well as a set of policies, for assigning addresses and new street names in unincorporated areas of the county. The policies also would give guidelines regarding street signs and other addressing signage.

Jaramillo said that residents also would be asked to post their addresses in a visible manner.

“We would provide the numbers, the post signs, the metal and all that sort of thing,” Jaramillo said.

He said the proposed ordinance will be available to the public after Feb. 1. It will be posted on the county’s website, www.chavescounty.gov, and its Facebook page and can be obtained at the Planning & Zoning Office at 1 St. Mary’s Place.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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