Views on the Rio Rancho Tax Vote (revised)

A special election is now under way in Rio Rancho. The vote will determine whether or not to reduce the gross receipts tax in the City by 1/8th of a cent. The tax will actually go down by 1/8th of a cent. Rio Rancho’s City Council plans to re-impose the 1/8th cent tax to pay for additional police and fire in the City.

Because it would on-net lower taxes, RGF is supportive of the ballot measure as written, but we’d like to have seen the tax repealed with no tax added for public safety. We strongly encourage Rio Rancho’s City Council NOT to impose this tax increase. We haven’t seen clear evidence that crime is out of control in Rio Rancho and if it were, this is THE core function of government and adequate police and fire should be handled first with other spending taken care of later. Here is some information comparing Rio Rancho to other localities on crime.

A few other points:

As we have pointed out in the past, New Mexico has too many branch campuses. In fact, CNM and Highlands already have campuses in Rio Rancho. It would seem that with New Mexico’s flagship university, UNM, a half hour drive from most Rio Rancho residents, that voting against continuation of the tax would not make one “anti-education.”

Also, even if voters vote down reducing the tax, it would seem that Councilors who have supported the ballot measure have won some concessions from UNM to be more aggressive in providing services to the City.

According to RGF research, Rio Rancho has seen its tax burden increase a good deal in recent years and now trails only Albuquerque in terms of overall burden as a percentage of income. Given that Rio Rancho is competing most closely with Albuquerque for businesses and residents, it would seem that Rio Rancho should focus on positives like lower crime, better schools, and lower taxes (already slightly lower, but could be better).