SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe voters overwhelmingly approved a new tax on million-dollar homes to raise money for affordable housing. While it passed by a nearly three-to-one margin, a lawsuit filed last month is throwing the ordinance into question.
“We’ve seen a lot of displacement, most families cannot afford a home in the city. I think our average housing price is just over $600,000 in the city where the area median income is around $54,000, so there is just a huge disconnect between how much a family is making and how much it costs to live here,” said Santa Fe City Councilor Jamie Cassutt.
However, on Tuesday, voters in Santa Fe made it known that they wanted to do something about it: approving a three percent excise tax on homes selling for over a million dollars, the proceeds of which would go towards funding affordable housing in the city.
“I’m completely overjoyed by the fact that the high-end excise tax passed with an overwhelming majority and its very clear by the numbers that all Santa Feans from all parts of the city felt like this was long overdue,” said Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal.
The final results show nearly 15,000 people voted in favor of the tax, while nearly 6,000 voted against it. “To see it pass with such a landslide was, truly remarkable in the sense of, the hope that I feel for where we can move from here,” Cassutt said.
“It was clear from the voters that they rejected the corporate interests of the real estate lobby and I think its just telling that folks want change,” Villarreal said.
However, not everyone is on board with the tax. In a lawsuit filed last month, several plaintiffs including the Santa Fe Association of Realtors are questioning whether the city has the legal authority to create the tax.
“We definitely are big advocates for affordable housing. We heard that loud and clear from the constituents and from the electorate. We just want to make sure it’s done in a legal way,” said Drew Lamprich, president of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors. Lamprich said the city has until November 13 to respond and show how they have the legal authority to do this.
“Well of course when we were going to introduce this we looked into that. And we do believe that we do have the jurisdiction,” Cassutt said, “Given how much enthusiasm there was for this measure, I’m not going to back down any time soon.”
For now, the tax is set to go into effect in July of next year.