ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A New Mexico Senator wants all state voters to have the option to pay more for gas to improve their own roads. Senate Bill 114, filed by Republican Senator Ron Griggs of Alamogordo, would allow all cities and counties to ask voters if they’d like to increase the gax tax by two cents, up to 19 cents.
The money would be put towards specific road projects. Currently, the state’s five largest counties, including Bernalillo, already have the power to do this.
KRQE News 13 asked Albuquerque city councilors if it’s something they’d consider, since the city is strapped for cash.Senator Griggs explains Bill 114. Story continues below:
The drive through Albuquerque isn’t always a smooth one.
“Our streets are not in good shape,” said Council President, Rey Garduño. “We definitely are always in need of road repairs,” said City Councilor, Ken Sanchez.
Road repairs are something the city and state are lacking funds for. But when News 13 asked city councilors whether they’re in favor of a two cent a gallon tax hike to fund local road work, their answers were split.
“The last thing we want to do is make it more expensive to live and work in the state of New Mexico, by raising taxes,” explained City Councilor, Dan Lewis.
But with low gas prices, Garduño, and Councilor Isaac Benton argue a tax hike on fuel is opportune. “I think it’s a good thing, and I think it’d be something that we’d be able to take advantage of,” explained Garduño.
“Well we don’t know if they’ll stay low like this, I mean prices are going back up and fluctuating,” Lewis countered.
Councilors would need a majority to push the issue to voters, but no one has tried yet.
The state’s gas tax sits at 17 cents a gallon, and all of that money goes to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Despite a lack of funds, Democratic Councilor Ken Sanchez doesn’t think a gas tax increase is the right answer.
“I would be extremely concerned that we would raise a tax, because we’ve just seen lower gas prices for just a short period of time,” Sanchez said. “The gas prices are starting to go back up.”
“I think we as a governmental entity need to be as frugal as we possibly can as we move forward,” Sanchez added.
Still, some local residents told KRQE News 13 they’d pay the extra two cents a gallon.
“Yes, definitely,” said Angelo Garcia. “Because we need better roads, there’s a lot of people that mess up their cars with pot holes.”
“Yeah, two cents, you know. I mean as long as the gas doesn’t go up,” said Gary Campos.
Several councilors said they will discuss the tax. If they decide to send it to voters, it could be put on the fall ballot.