When does $8 million = $30 million? - Albuquerque Journal

When does $8 million = $30 million?

How do you fill an $8 million budget deficit? If you’re Bernalillo County the answer is simple – impose $30 million in new taxes!

Today, the Bernalillo County Commission will take final action on its latest tax increase, an increase that will impose an additional 3/16ths-of-a-cent tax on every purchase made in the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

If passed, gross receipts taxes in the city of Albuquerque will go from 7.3125 percent to 7.5 percent. In fact, county gross receipts taxes have increased of 13 percent since 2010.

So how did we get here?

Back in 2013, the state Legislature granted cities and counties additional taxation authority to make up for lost “revenue” due to the phase out of the “hold harmless” payments, which were begun in 2006 to make up for lost “revenue” from the removal of the gross receipts tax on food and medicine.

Simple, right?

In other words, the lost taxes to cities and counties from food and medicine gross receipts were paid for by the state until 2013, when the Legislature decided that the state budget could ill afford continued “hold harmless” payments to their local brethren and started a 15-year phaseout of payments.

As they did back in 2005 when this whole mess began, the 2013 Legislature bought off – or rather cut a deal with – local governments that would allow them to impose their own replacement taxes to make up for lost “hold harmless” revenue from the state.

The only problem is that the Legislature gave local governments six times the taxation authority necessary to make up the difference.

In 2015, the Bernalillo County Commission – over my objection – chose to impose a 3/16ths-of-a-cent tax that generates approximately $30 million in new “revenue” to replace the $10 million of “hold harmless revenue” from the state.

Now, the commission is considering sticking their hands back into your pockets to grab the rest of the $60 million they didn’t get the first time around.

The argument from county management is that we need additional “revenue” to be able to continue to provide basic services – an argument I do not buy, and this is why:

Last May, Bernalillo County was looking at a $17.7-million budget deficit. We were able to bridge that gap in a long and tedious commission meeting. It was hard work, but we owed it to the public to find a way to live within our $248-million means, and we did.

The good news is that this year’s deficit is just $8 million, and the county has made progress in reducing operational expenses. However as the very existence of a deficit shows, we’re still not where we need to be.

This is where staff hits the easy button.

It’s easy to have the commission impose a new tax. It’s easy to say “it’s just 19 cents on every $100.” It’s easy when imposing a new tax generates a $22-million windfall.

Raising taxes is always government’s easy way out. Unlike private businesses, Bernalillo County can make each and every one of us pay more for almost everything we buy, every time we buy it, in order to make up for its own financial condition and/or mistakes.

The simple fact is you can’t tax your way out of a spending problem, and I cannot and will not support balancing the county budget on the backs of an already overburdened public.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » When does $8 million = $30 million?

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

'Migratory' pairs the migration of plants and animals with ...
'Migratory,' developed by Mexico City artist ... 'Migratory,' developed by Mexico City artist Minerva Cuevas, will run at 516 ARTS through Dec. 31.
The third Fixed and Free Quarterly features a collection ...
Fifty-nine poets – the ... Fifty-nine poets – the majority from New Mexico – contributed the 112 poems that spice up the third and most ...
Via Ferrata, like the one in Telluride, are a ...
Via ferratas started in Italy during ... Via ferratas started in Italy during World War I to allow troops to pass through rugged alpine areas, the idea spread across Europe and ...
New immersive experience lets eventgoers interact with the legendary ...
The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum saw an ... The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum saw an opportunity to work with Albuquerque-based Electric Playhouse to create 'Music For The Eyes: A New Georgia O'Keeffe Experience
Historic locomotive Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe 2926 almost ...
The AT&SF 2926 was built in ... The AT&SF 2926 was built in 1944 and ran a million miles in the American Southwest before being retired to an Albuquerque park in ...
New Mexico town fiercely protective of its land and ...
Chilili's name is not to be ... Chilili's name is not to be confused with another small town in northern New Mexico called Chili, or the delicious condiment we put on ...
Eliminating mimosa seed pods can help larvae in check
Earlier this year you had some ... Earlier this year you had some sort of adult insects lay eggs throughout the mimosa, probably just at the spot where the flowers extended ...
'Grounded' explores the struggle between war and family
Fusion Theatre Company is staging 'Grounded' ... Fusion Theatre Company is staging 'Grounded' beginning on Friday, Oct. 7, at The Cell Theatre. The play runs on weekends through Oct. 16. 'Grounded' ...
'When the Dogs Stop Barking' explores the humanitarian crisis ...
Open at 516 ARTS through Dec. ... Open at 516 ARTS through Dec. 31, 'When the Dogs Stop Barking' exhibits the work of five artists exploring this humanitarian crisis spanning 1,954 ...