Eddy County’s Tax Revolt

First, an overwhelming vote against a soda tax in bluer-than-blue Santa Fe. Next, an all-but-unheard-of rejection of a recreation bond in wealthy Los Alamos.

Now, a revolt against a multi-pronged GRT hike in oil country?

Eddy County, the home of Carlsbad Caverns National Park — and quite a few oil wells — adopted three GRT hikes in May. The measures created a new “Safety Net Care Pool Fund,” secured additional funding for the Eddy County Detention Center, and raised revenue for “general purposes.”

County residents have consistently expressed their opposition to tax hikes, going back to 2015, when an attempt was made, unsuccessfully, to use the “hold harmless” option local governments can employ to make up for revenue denied them under the state’s ban on taxing groceries under the GRT.

So it’s hardly surprising that a group of gutsy Eddy County taxpayers are rebelling. Residents Against Frivolous Taxation has obtained enough signatures to submit two of the increases (corrections and general purposes) to voters. Ballots will be cast by mail in September.

The plebiscite will cost $60,000. “I hate to see that kind of money being spent, but we have no other option,” Stella Davis, a Republican commissioner, whined last week. But perhaps if she and her colleagues on the GOP-dominated board had listened to their constituents better, the expense would be unnecessary.

Leading the charge against the hikes are residents of Artesia and Carlsbad, and it’s easy to see why. As the chart below shows, within Eddy County, the two cities have faced the highest GRT hikes — 26.3 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively — since the arrival of the 21st century. With Artesia and Carlsbad comprising 71.4 percent of the county’s population, the greatest pain has been imposed on the greatest number of taxpayers.

Errors of Enchantment will monitor the Eddy County revolt and report on the results next month.

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