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Metro Beat: Tax hike to cost Sandia Labs $2M a year

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bernalillo County’s tax hike will cost Sandia National Laboratories about $2 million a year.

The lab hasn’t made any budget decisions yet, but it will have to reduce spending elsewhere to make up the difference, Sandia spokeswoman Nancy Salem said.

The new tax will add roughly 19 cents onto every $100 purchase of most goods and services, starting July 1.

It’s expected to raise about $30 million a year – most of it for new behavioral health programs. About $10 million is intended to help the county balance its budget.

County commissioners approved the increase earlier this year on a party-line vote, Democrats in the majority.

Electronic signs

A new ordinance will allow companies that own billboards along the interstate and within city limits to convert them into electronic signs.

The City Council unanimously approved the idea last week, at the suggestion of Councilor Trudy Jones, who said it would replace ugly signs.

BID tax ends

City councilors have agreed to terminate the business improvement district that allowed Downtown property owners to tax themselves to pay for cleaning and other services.

The cleaning work will continue, but with city funding.

Councilor Isaac Benton, who sponsored the bill, said he encourages Downtown business owners to consider a similar district in the future if they can come to agreement on how it should be governed.

Jail breakdown

Bernalillo County is trying to get the city of Albuquerque to pay a per-inmate fee for people dropped off at the jail by city police.

The county estimates that, in 2014, about 58 percent of the jail’s inmates were arrested by Albuquerque police.

So where do the rest of the come from?

• About 23 percent are arrested by Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies.

• About 7 percent by probation/parole officers.

• About 4 percent by county corrections officers.

• About 2 percent by State Police.

• The remainder by a combination of tribal police, federal authorities, school police and others.

Mayor Richard Berry’s administration argues that Albuquerque city residents already pay taxes to the county, so they shouldn’t have to pay for the jail through their city taxes, too. The county argues that other cities in New Mexico help pay for jails and that it was once the practice here, too.

Dan McKay can be reached at


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