Citizens, some from Rio Rancho and many who don’t live in the city, have strongly criticized members of the city council for wanting to ask voters to reduce the UNM education gross receipts tax by 50 percent and apply those funds to public safety.
The reality is both our police and fire departments are in serious trouble when it comes to manpower, equipment and fair wages. The fire department needs another EMS vehicle. There are days when every EMS vehicles is out on a run. If another emergency call comes in, there may be a delay in responding until one of the in-service vehicles can be cleared. In critical situations, that delay could be the difference between life and death. The majority of Rio Rancho police vehicles are way over the recommended limit for mileage. The cost to keep these vehicles operational is extremely high and their dependability is always in question. Let’s not forget other equipment that our first responders need to effectively do their jobs and keep us and them safe. As for manpower, the numbers speak for themselves. We need more police officers and firefighters/EMS personnel so they can adequately protect us.
The money from this quarter-percent education tax was to go to UNM to expand its Rio Rancho West campus and programs. To date, that has not happened. When asked what the university’s future plans were UNM’s president, Robert Frank, could not/would not deliver specifics. Even an editorial in the Albuquerque Journal faulted the university for its failure to provide the public with answers.
If the vote to reallocate a portion of this tax fails, the next time you need a cop or fire rescue, try calling UNM. See how fast they respond to protect your life and safety.