Lone star Commissioner saves Santa Fe County residents from possible double taxation

Santa Fe County Commissioner Jack Sullivan was fighting the majority, according to The New Mexican (Official fights planned tax hike, Apr. 29, 2008), when he proposed that Santa Fe County drop out of the Transit District, which includes Santa Fe, Taos, Los Alamos, and Rio Arriba counties. The Transit District is trying to impose a tax increase on residents to expand bus services in these counties.
The only problem is that the state legislature, through the Department of Transportation, is considering imposing its own tax for Rail Runner services. The Transit District doesn’t know where Rail Runner routes are going to connect yet. They have no clue where bus service might be needed most. A week ago the Transit District, even though it didn’t have the details of Rail Runner service, wanted to impose a tax increase anyway. Thankfully Jack Sullivan was able to persuade Santa Fe County Commissioners to hold off until they were able to talk to the state about plans for the train. Sullivan said, “Details about how Santa Fe’s approximately $4.5 million portion in tax revenue would be spent are vague.” It’s possible that the state would impose a tax for some of the same services the Transit District wanted to tax for.
Some officials didn’t think double taxation was a big deal. Transit Board director Josette Lucero said, “We’ve already gone back to the drawing board twice.” Santa Fe City Councilor Miguel Chavez said, “We’ve already reconsidered…it seems a little redundant.” County Commissioner Mike Anaya said, ‘Sullivan needs to take a longer view of the issue and not get bogged down worrying about which county pays for what.’ (The New Mexican, 4/29). Details are so messy when you are trying to pick peoples’ pockets!
Then, after the Commission’s April 29th meeting, at which Sullivan was able to convince commissioners to wait for more details from the state’s Department of Transportation before agreeing to the Transit District’s tax, Board director Lucero said, “I can totally understand their position…I agree that the parties needed to come together months ago.” Santa Fe Mayor David Cross said, “We’re just not ready. We don’t have a plan for public transit that includes the Rail Runner…I would like to see that addressed as part of the equation…” (The New Mexican, County agrees to put hold on tax increase, Apr. 30, 2008) The Transit Board director is only going to participate in a task force if they can come to a resolution within 30 days, after which Sullivan will reintroduce the idea of Santa Fe County dropping out of the Transit District.
Why isn’t possible double taxation a big deal for the Transit District? Why haven’t the counties and state been collaborating on transit? Why is the Transit Board director putting a timeline on researching the impacts of the tax? It’s obvious that some of these people aren’t concerned with wasting our money. Other than Sullivan, many of these officials seem to have no problem flushing our money down the toilet.

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