County council considers regional transit tax

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By Carol A. Clark

As part of a regional transit district initiative consistent with Los Alamos County’s goal to improve transportation and mobility, a transit gross receipts tax and election are being considered.

At its Tuesday meeting, council made a minor amendment to the ordinance and set June 24 as the date for a public hearing and council action on the issue.

The tax is equal to .125 percent of the community’s gross receipts. It would total about $1.9 million per year.

If voters approve the tax, it will go into effect in 2009. The revenue will be used for public transit services within the regional transit district.

“The change (in the ordinance) is not due to incompetence or mistakes by the county or anyone else but in response to the dilemma Santa Fe County has found itself,” Councilor Jim West said, adding that because of its ordinance wording, the Santa Fe County tax is going to have to be split. “The amount of our proposed tax and what it’s to be used for remains the same.”

West has served on the North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) for several years and Council Chair Jim Hall praised him for his leadership.

West mentioned that the NCRTD met in Los Alamos Friday.

“Everyone is getting ready to adopt ordinances in their counties,” he said, adding that Taos County has now joined the transit district.

Los Alamos County is a major contributor to the NCRTD. Last spring, $1.2 million in funds for the NCRTD were made available as part of the new Progress through Partnering program. These funds are being used to enhance regional transit that benefits Los Alamos.

The NCRTD was created through legislation enacted in 2003. Los Alamos County joined the district through county council approval in 2004.

Other members include Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Taos counties; the cities of Española and Santa Fe; and the pueblos of Tesuque, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Ohkay Owingeh and Santa Clara.

The proposed County Regional Transit Gross Receipts Tax election, if approved, will be held as part of the November general election.

Five of the seven members who serve on county council were in attendance Tuesday evening. Councilors Mike Wheeler and Nona Bowman were out of town.