Council stands alone - so far

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By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos County Council adopted an ordinance unanimously Tuesday for a County Regional Transit gross receipts tax and another for an election to allow voters to decide that tax.

“I just got back from Canada where gas is $6 a gallon,” Councilor Nona Bowman said. “So I think more people here will need public transportation if we are to be successful at all in our state.”

The question on the ballot in the Los Alamos County election, which will coincide with the Nov. 4 general election, will ask voters if there shall be imposed a County Regional Transit gross receipts tax of 1/8 percent to finance the operational costs and capital expenditures of passenger transportation in the North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD), which includes Santa Fe.

The tax would generate $1.9 million for public transportation operations in the county apart from Atomic City Transit. No fiscal or staff impacts will be generated if voters approve the tax, and costs associated with Atomic City Transit expansion could be funded through this GRT.

If NCRTD members approve a similar tax, the district would realize $5,663,733 in total revenue for surface transportation in the district.

“I can’t imagine the rationale for pulling out,” Councilor Jim West said of Santa Fe City Council.

Santa Fe City Council postponed its decision and it appears the city and county governments continue to worry about how much of their contributions will be distributed to other counties, Councilor Mike Wheeler said this morning.

“The numbers show they have a net gain so I don’t see how this will harm any of the entities,” he said. “I think the message to the Santa Fe city and county is to carefully review this because we don’t see any downside for them and their participation is really vital to the region.”

West told councilors Tuesday evening, “I think when clearer heads prevail, (Santa Fe) will turn around. We’re breaking new ground and the ground is very, very hard in some places ... But I’m really optimistic about the outcome.”

Josette Lucero, executive director of the North Central Regional Transit District attended Tuesday’s meeting held in Council Chambers at the Community Building.

She asked council to call its counterparts in Santa Fe to encourage them on the issue. Santa Fe City Council meets tonight and Santa Fe County Commissioners are set to hold a special meeting July 7.

Lucero publicly praised West for his efforts on the NCRTD board and also thanked councilors for their support. “It just amazes me how you guys ‘get it’ up here,” she said.

The NCRTD was created through legislative enactment on March 21, 2003. Council voted to join the NCRTD in July 2004. The district encompasses Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Taos and Los Alamos county. Members include the cities of Española and Santa Fe, and the pueblos of Tesuque, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Ohkay Owingeh and Santa Clara. Service is provided by the NCRTD from Questa to Edgewood.