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Santa Fe County tax election set for September

SANTA FE — A date has been set for Santa Fe County voters to decide on increasing the county’s gross receipts tax by 1/16 of a percent to provide additional funding for public safety and behavioral health services.

The Santa Fe County Commission at a special meeting Thursday unanimously approved a resolution for a Sept. 19 special election on the increase. The resolution also asks that all the voting precincts be consolidated so residents can vote at any precinct. If approved, the increase will take effect Jan. 1.

Last week the commission unanimously approved a one-eighth of 1 percent increase to gross receipts taxes, adding 12.5 cents on a $100 purchase of goods or services. With the GRT hike that voters now will consider in September, the combined increases would add a total of about 19 cents on $100 at check-out.

Revenues from the one-eighth increase, and the one-sixteenth if approved by voters, are designated for hiring more firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, correction officers and emergency dispatchers, as well as for beahvioral health services and creation of a behavioral health triage center.

The one-eighth increase will move the rate within the Santa Fe city limits to 8.4375 percent and to 7.125 percent in unincorporated county territory on Jan 1. Residents in the portion of Española that extends into northern Santa Fe County already pay a GRT of 8.9375 percent.

The one-eighth rate hike is expected raise an estimated $4.6 million annually. An extra 1/16 increase would move the total for estimated new revenue $6.9 million, county officials say.

There was overwhelming support for a GRT increase during a public comment period of the June 27 commission meeting, as a way to raise money for behavioral health services. District Attorney Marco Serna said he went on ride-alongs with law enforcement officers and saw the need for a triage center.

Santa Fe County Republican Party chairwoman Yvonne Chicoine spoke out against tax increases, saying the county has increased GRT eight times in the last 15 years and has not made the case for another increase.