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          Front Page




County to Weigh Open-Space Tax

By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
    Bernalillo County commissioners this week will consider imposing an open-space tax to help make up for a proposal left off the ballot last year.
    Voters in November were supposed to decide whether to continue a tax to fund the acquisition and maintenance of open-space lands, but the question wasn't included on the ballot— the result of an "administrative error," a spokeswoman said.
    The property tax generates about $2 million a year and amounts to around $8 a year on a $100,000 home. Voters approved the tax in 1998 and 2000, but it's set to expire this summer.
    The county is now considering whether to enact an open-space tax without voter approval.
    The proposal would impose a tax smaller than what has been in place. It would amount to around $3 a year for a $100,000 home and generate $1 million annually.
    If county commissioners take no action— or reject the latest proposal— revenue from the existing tax will dry up this summer.
    County Commission Chairman Alan Armijo said he plans to support the tax measure.
    "It's important," he said Sunday in an interview. "There are a lot of people calling who want to do more parks."
    The tax proposal isn't as big as what's been in place because the county wants to start small for now and "look at a bigger package in the future," Armijo said.
    The county has nine open-space properties totaling about 1,000 acres.
    The new tax is part of a $556 million budget package for the 2008 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
    The basic budget for next year was already approved last summer as part of a two-year spending plan. The package up for a vote Tuesday is a set of adjustments to the previous plan.
    If adopted Tuesday, the budget adjustments will be sent to the state government for review before taking effect.
   
Commission meeting
    The County Commission meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the city-county Government Center at Fifth and Marquette NW.