Bloomfield will discuss special election date

Hannah Grover
Bloomfield Fire Department Chief George Duncan, left, and Capt. Travis Olbert look over paperwork on March 4 before a safety meeting.

FARMINGTON — At a meeting on Monday, the Bloomfield City Council will discuss setting a date for a special election on whether to increase the city's gross receipts tax.

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the Bloomfield City Hall.

While councilors will discuss possible dates for the election, City Manager Eric Strahl said they will not set a date until after an ordinance has been passed calling for the special election. He said the council will likely approve the ordinance in April.

The special election will allow voters to determine whether or not the city should instate a gross receipts tax that would help Bloomfield pay the salaries of seven firefighters. A public hearing has been set for April 11 to discuss the proposed tax increase.

From left, Bloomfield Fire Department Chief George Duncan and Assistant Fire Chief John Mohler speak to the Bloomfield City Council during a meeting on Feb. 22 at Bloomfield City Hall.

The firefighters were previously paid through a $1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That grant will expire in May.

Fire department officials have said that a one-quarter of 1 percent gross receipts tax would provide enough money to keep the seven firefighters on staff. Officials have said the tax could raise about $570,000 in revenue annually. Strahl said that number would vary each year, based on the economy.

The fire department needs $450,000 to pay the salaries of the seven firefighters.

In 2014, the city annexed about  6,775 acres of land in the hopes of growing tax revenue. At the time of the annexation, city officials said the annexation — which doubled the city's size and included nearby natural gas plants — would increase the city's tax revenues by up to $2 million.

On Friday, Strahl said the increased tax revenue from the annexation has not provided enough money to pay for the seven firefighting positions.

He said the economic challenges facing the oil and gas industry have also hurt Bloomfield's finances.

"Our GRT moneys are running low," Strahl said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

Bloomfield firefighter Tony Herrera checks on a fire engine on March 4 at the station in Bloomfield.