Eddy County commissioners draw criticism after approving tax increase

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ARTESIA, N.M. (KRQE) – Residents in southeastern New Mexico will soon be paying more for everyday things, and not everyone is happy about it.

County commissioners voted Thursday for a tax increase in Eddy County, saying the rate hike is completely necessary. Some residents don’t think so.

Things like roads, public safety, and keeping the Eddy County Detention Center operating are all projects county commissioners in Carlsbad say need more money.

“With oil and gas revenues down, we just at this point, saw no other avenue than to do this,” Eddy County Commissioner Stella Davis told KRQE News 13.

Davis is referring to Thursday’s vote to increase Eddy County’s gross receipts tax.

Residents will see a 33-cent increase for every $100 they spend on goods and services starting January 1, 2018.

Davis says the extra money will help keep the County Detention Center open.

“Currently our detention center’s budget is $13 million and that’s not enough. If we don’t put any money into it, it opens us for a potential lawsuit which we want to of course avoid,” Davis said.

The money may also help the sheriff’s department buy new vehicles, but not everyone is on board with the tax increase.

Residents in Artesia will now have some of the highest taxes in the county.

KRQE News 13 reached out to Artesia Mayor Phillip Burch who wasn’t available for comment.

However, Burch told the Artesia Daily Press he feels the board didn’t do a good enough job informing citizens about the tax increase.

Stella Davis disagrees, arguing commissioners did radio interviews, held meetings, and spread the word on Facebook.

“We would like to continue the level of service that we do provide,” she said.

Davis said one of the approved tax hikes may go back down once oil and gas revenues go back up, and she hopes oil and gas revenues will be back to normal by December 2019.

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