Albuquerque City Council Raises GRT Despite Criticism from Public

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

The Albuquerque City Council raised the municipal gross receipts tax by .375% last night with a 8-1 vote, Councilor Brad Winters was the sole dissenting vote. The bill passed with an amendment from Councilors Pat Davis and Trudy Jones to set a floor of 60% of the revenues from this GRT increase to be used for purposes of public safety. That amendment passed the Council unanimously.

Dozens of private citizens including several representatives of non-profit organizations like the Rio Grande Foundation, the New Mexico Business Alliance, and Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico appeared at the city council meeting to speak up against the proposed tax increase in public comments. Entrepreneurs and business associations alike were against the GRT increase believing it to be the wrong way to go about improving public safety standards.

One entrepreneur cited the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in reference to New Mexico’s low ranking regarding states “friendly to businesses.”

Another private citizen expressed dissatisfaction towards the GRT increase saying it doesn’t go far enough, “why not make it a 1% increase?”

Of the spectators who spoke up in front of the Council, four private citizens were in favor of the GRT increase, expressing their support and gratitude for police officers and fire fighters in Albuquerque. Union representatives of police officers and fire fighters appeared at the meeting saying that their respective organizations are both struggling with a limited staff and outdated equipment. Police officers and fire fighters will be the primary beneficiaries of this GRT increase.

One Albuquerque police officer whom I spoke with during the meeting’s dinner break said that he is glad it passed because he and his co-workers have been struggling with their patrol routes and their equipment.

The majority of private citizens who chose to speak up at the event were against the GRT increase.

The issue of cannabis decriminalization was not discussed in the council meeting last night. Councilor Pat Davis introduced legislation about cannabis at the meeting but it is scheduled for debate within the Finance & Government Operations Committee before it will appear in front of the full Council. The next meeting of the Finance & Government Operations Committee is scheduled for March 12 at 5:00 pm in the Council Committee meeting room of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Building at Civic Plaza.