Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Councilors May Repeal Tax Extension
By Jim Ludwick
Journal Staff Writer
If you go
City councilors will meet twice this week.
Wednesday: A regular meeting of the City Council is scheduled for 5 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.
Thursday: Councilors will meet as the budget committee to consider changing the mayor's capital-program proposal. No public comment will be taken. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. in council chambers.
City Councilor Brad Winter will attempt Wednesday to repeal a tax extension that was approved for streetcar development.
Councilors voted in November to launch a streetcar project by extending the life of a transportation tax until 2020. The quarter-cent gross-receipts tax had been scheduled to expire at the end of 2009.
The idea was to develop a streetcar line along Central, using bonds that would be repaid with revenue from the transportation tax.
But the decision to extend the tax caused a public uproar, because councilors decided against putting it on a ballot. The original tax had been approved by voters.
Councilors backed away from the streetcar project to allow time for further study, and Winter introduced legislation calling for repeal of the tax extension.
He will try to win council approval during a meeting Wednesday. "It's what the people of Albuquerque want," Winter said.
Mayor Martin Chávez also is pushing for repeal. He sent a letter to councilors last week urging them to rescind the tax extension.
"It rightly ought to be repealed," Chávez said Monday.
He originally supported the tax extension, but he began calling for repeal when it became clear there was no consensus on the City Council in favor of a streetcar system.
Council President Debbie O'Malley said officials are "boxed in" and will likely repeal the tax extension Wednesday.
"We're behind a rock and a hard place. ... I don't think we have any choice except to repeal it," she said.
Councilor Isaac Benton, who has proposed a task force to look at transportation issues, said he expects repeal of the tax extension.
Benton wants a task force to consider a streetcar project and the possible use of a transportation tax extension. He said the approved tax extension will likely be scuttled for now, but could be revisited in the future if it's considered desirable after further study.