San Jon hopes to halt shrinking tax revenue

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Tucumcari’s newest truck stops are pulling traffic past San Jon’s I-40 exit and putting a big dent in San Jon’s operating budget this fiscal year, said a Village of San Jon official.

The village estimates it will lose about $50,000, or more than 3 percent of its $1.6 million annual budget, by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, said village administrator Bobbye Rose.

“What we have is a financial problem because we lost manpower and gross receipts taxes because of the two new truck stops in Tucumcari,” Rose said.

San Jon’s exit is flanked by two older truck stops and some of those businesses lost employees to the new truck stops for a better wage, Rose said.

While there has been a gradual decline in gross receipts taxes in San Jon, its tax revenue seems to be less and less since a new Love’s opened in September, and the Flying J opened in November, both on I-40 at Mountain Road in Tucumcari, Rose said.

“We know it’s down $25,000 right now, and six months from now we project it will be down another $25,000,” Rose said.

In the future, the village could see even less tax revenue. A new truck stop, Russell’s, is under construction in Endee, and eventually the state’s temporary welcome station in San Jon, which draws traffic into the town, will close when a new state welcome center is completed in Glenrio, Rose said.

The village and its trustees are looking at ways to cut expenses and encourage new business in San Jon.

“We’re going to have to cut something. We’re looking at every option,” Rose said.

All of San Jon’s employees – Rose, two village clerks, one police officer and two maintenance workers – have discussed how they could cut expenses.

“We’ve discussed every option and presented it to the trustees, they have suggested more options and then together, we have all come up with more,” Rose said.

The village receives a $20,000 grant from the state for equipment for its police service and it would like to use those funds for its police officer salary, but has been unable to get the appropriation changed, Rose said. Instead, the village is seeking a joint powers agreement with Quay County to receive limited police coverage from the Quay County Sheriff’s Office and to give the county its equipment funds. The Quay County Commission discussed the proposal at its Monday meeting and decided to schedule a work session with San Jon to discuss the proposal in detail.

Encouraging new business prospects and bringing in motorists is also being examined, Rose said.

San Jon recently got lights back at its exit which had been off for several years, Rose said. It’s hoped that they will be a beacon for motorists on I-40.

There also are plans to meet with the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp. to discuss ways to bring new businesses to San Jon, including two prospects. One is the development of a cornfield maze attraction and the other is the Caprock Amphitheater, which could become a destination for horseback riding, nature trails, cowboy-poetry and music festivals and other cowboy-related venues.

The village and trustees are expected to discuss budget cuts at the next village meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 at the San Jon Storm Shelter building, next to City Hall.