Aztec unanimously approves gross receipts tax increase
Increase will go into effect Jan. 1
AZTEC — The Aztec City Commission unanimously approved raising the city's gross receipts tax by 1/4 of 1 percent during its Tuesday meeting even though a commissioner expressed concern that the Economic Development Advisory Board had not been consulted.
Commissioner Sherri Sipe asked if the vote could be delayed to give time for the advisory board to review how the tax increase could impact local businesses.
However, the commission was on a tight time schedule because the city wanted the tax to go into effect Jan. 1.
City finance director Kathy Lamb said if the commission postponed voting on the tax increase until after the next Economic Development Advisory Board meeting on Sept. 20, there would not be enough time for the planned increase to meet the state deadline to go into effect Jan. 1. That would mean the tax would not take effect until July 1 and would not benefit the city of Aztec until fiscal year 2020.
Mayor Victor Snover pointed out that the commission had been discussing the gross receipts tax increase for six weeks, and the members of the Economic Development Advisory Board had the opportunity to attend commission meetings and offer their input.
“I’m of the opinion that we gave adequate time for folks to weigh in on this,” Snover said.
Lamb said the city did not receive any comments regarding the tax increase, with the exception of an email that was sent to commissioners Tuesday. Sipe said that email alleged a City Commissioner had told business owners in Aztec that the tax increase was due to mismanagement of city funds.
Sipe said postponing the vote would give the members of the public more time to voice their opinion on the tax increase, especially in light of the allegation that a commissioner has been saying Aztec mismanaged its funds.
She said the allegation of mismanaged funds “is so far from the truth that it blew my mind and really ticked me off.”
Sipe attributed the need for a tax increase to the downturn in the economy, which reduced the city’s revenue.
“This bust has lasted longer than anybody predicted that it would last,” Sipe said.
She said if the city had not aggressively started cutting budgets at least five years ago, the commission would have had to raise gross receipts taxes earlier.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.