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Meetings roundup: County Commission set to vote on increasing gross receipts tax rate

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The San Juan County Commission room has been set up to limit the spread of the coronavirus, however members of the public are being asked to watch the meeting rather than attend in person.

AZTEC — The San Juan County Commission could vote to raise gross receipts taxes when it meets at 4 p.m. Sept. 15.

The county manager and Commissioner Jim Crowley went on KSJE to explain why the county is considering the increased tax rate. A presentation during an August meeting that can be viewed on YouTube also outlines how the county got to its current financial state.

GRT is similar to a sales tax and will be born by everyone who shops in San Juan County, which makes it a more attractive option than increasing property tax. Only a fraction of the land in San Juan County is privately owned. The proposed increase would be 1/8 of one percent. 

The county has been working on a tight budget for about a decade and these challenges were only increased by the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Juan County has relied on fossil fuel sectors as an economic base, but the future of fossil fuel extraction remains uncertain.

On the electric utility side, many of the utilities that previously relied on coal-fired power plants have committed to transitioning to cleaner sources of energy like solar, wind and nuclear. Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to end its operation of the San Juan Generating Station in 2022, meaning the plant will close unless the City of Farmington and its partner Enchant Energy are successful at retrofitting it with carbon capture technology. While solar projects could help bolster property taxes and provide a short-term influx of revenue during construction, solar arrays do not require the large workforce that coal-fired power plants need.

In terms of extraction, the San Juan Basin is a natural gas basin and oversupply has driven the price of natural gas down. Many of the major companies, such as ConocoPhillips, have pulled out of the basin.

County officials say those factors, as well as the pandemic leading to businesses closing at least temporarily, mean that the county must either increase revenue by raising taxes or decrease expenses by laying off employees and cutting services. And the county has already cut the number of people it employs.

The meeting will be broadcast on YouTube. Information about how to provide comments can be found at sjcounty.net/watch and a comment form can be found at sjcounty.net/comment.

Other meetings

Every year the Farmington City Council awards Community Development Block Grant funding to various non-profits. This year, many of the applicants are asking for money to support the implementation of COVID-safe practices. The City Council is scheduled to award these grants to the non-profits during its 9 a.m. Sept. 15 work session, which can be viewed on Zoom. Contact the city clerk at 505-599-1101 to get a passcode.

Bloomfield City Council meets at 6 p.m. Sept. 14. Councilor Ken Hare will provide an economic development presentation. The public can call 425-436-6323 to participate in the meeting and use the access code 436935#.

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe will discuss law enforcement training during the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee meeting that starts at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 via video conference. The meeting can be viewed at nmlegis.gov. Other topics include use of force. Other legislative committee meetings this week include the Tobacco Settlement Revenue Oversight Committee on Sept. 15, the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee on Sept. 16 and the Disabilities Concerns Subcommittee on Sept. 17.

The Farmington Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency Commission meets at 4 p.m. Sept. 15 via Zoom. Topics include a potential for a food truck plaza. Call 505-599-1282 for the passcode.

The Central Consolidated School District Board of Education meets at 1 p.m. Sept. 15. The meeting can be viewed on Facebook.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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