Voters approve tax increase

Dave Gragg

Tucumcari voters approved a quarter-cent gross receipts tax increase Tuesday by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.
The voters approved the measure 255 to 87.
The new tax will add nearly $216,000 to a fund dedicated to building a water delivery system from Ute Lake near Logan to Tucumcari and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2004.
“I’m thrilled,” said Tucumcari City Manager Richard Primrose. “It’s good that citizens understand the importance of water and its necessity for economic development.”
“I’m going to take it as a mandate that Tucumcari is serious about keeping its water,” said Mayor Calvin Litchfield.
Although Tucumcari veterinarian Darrell Farmer lives outside the city limits and was not eligible to vote in the election, he waited at City Hall for the results.
“I couldn’t vote, but I felt strongly about it,” he said, pointing to the region’s history.
“He who controlled the water controlled destiny, and it’s like that today,” he said.
Voters in most districts supported the measure by a sizable margin. District 1 voted it down 31-19.
Despite a promising early numbers, a large number of voters didn’t materialize. By Friday afternoon, 55 people had cast early ballots and three more had voted absentee.
But while the early voting was high, the 340-person turnout was less than the last time the city tried to pass the one-quarter cent tax increase.
In September of 2001, 385 people voted down the increase by a 256-129 margin.
That tax increase was less specific as to what the tax revenue would used for. Instead of being limited to water delivery, the measure voted down in 2001 could have been used for any infrastructure improvements.

Voter breakdown:
For Against
District I 19 31
District 2 35 20
District 3 34 4
District 4 40 13
District 5 125 18
Absentee 2 1
Total 255 87
All numbers unofficial until after canvassing Thursday