Eddy County commissioners are scheduled to vote on three proposed tax increases in a special meeting next week.
The Thursday vote will follow public hearings on the hikes asÂ County commissioners consider whether to raise gross receipt taxes, levied on business activities and purchases, to account for a shortfall in revenue and unfunded state mandates.
If approved, the increases will take effect next year.
Officials worried that the higher expenses for businesses could raise costs for local consumers.
The three proposals are intended to replace money taken by the state, while also raising county revenue for infrastructure projects in fiscal year 2018.
The first of three options presented to the board was a 1/12 of 1 percent hike to replenish $2.6 million in Safety Net Care Pool funds sent to the state this year to support New Mexico hospitals.
The board will also consider charging an additional correctional facility tax hike of two increments of 1/16 of 1 percent to support correctional facilities in Eddy County, keeping up with new requirements and potentially construct a new facility.
A third hike would impose a county-wide gross receipts tax increase of 1/8 for general purposes.
County Commissioner Jon Henry said he is opposed to tax increases of any kind, despite the need for increased revenue in Eddy County.
âItâs very difficult,â Henry said. âIâm adamantly opposed to new taxes. I understand the need, but Iâve always been opposed.â
Henry said he would consider supporting the GRT tax increase to replace funding taken by the state for the Safety Net Care Pool, but was against any new taxes levied on citizens.
âAnything thatâs replacing something, thatâs something I would take a harder look,â he said. âWe need to take a hard look at expenses.â
To raise revenue without raising taxes, Henry suggested that attracting businesses to Eddy County with lower tax rates could create a wider tax base.
He said the county should expand upon its already highly industrial market and turn to the state to help fund needs such as jails and road projects.
âI understand the needÂ but government needs to be focused on industry,â Henry said. âThe more of that you have, the less taxes you have to impose.â
Tax increases needed amid state sweeps
Unfunded mandates, where the state requires counties to pay for state-approved projects, need to be controlled, Henry said.
âI would like to see us go to the state and really push them on the things theyâre making us do,â he said.
County records show unfunded mandates for public programs and facilities have already cost the county about $35 million in construction investments with $19.9 million in annual operational costs.
With the current tax arrangement, records show about $12.7 million is being drawn from the…