As you know, economic times are rough throughout the nation, and budgets are tight. As an example, I just found out this morning that the State now estimates their deficit to be $450 million. This means that any significant aid for our community in the form of grants is no longer possible. Therefore, we are basically on our own.
I have heard rumors that we are closing the museum and the golf course. Neither of these rumors is true. In fact at this time and for the foreseeable future, we have no plans to close any departments within the City. You may also have heard the rumor that I am proposing a tax increase. This rumor is true. The City has major needs that we must meet. Examples are demolition of the Sands Dorsey building, estimated at $500,000; two pieces of equipment for the new landfill, a bulldozer estimated at $750,000, and a two-yard scraper estimated at $650,000. Also we need to install an automated sprinkler system at the Cemetery estimated at $4000. These are just a few of the items that the City needs.
Allow me to explain the proposed tax increase. When enacted, it would be one quarter of one penny per dollar spent. This means if you spent four dollars, it would cost you a penny. If you spend forty dollars, it would cost you four cents. If you spent a hundred dollars, it would cost you twenty five cents. To determine for yourself how this works, simply take any number and multiply by .25%. This tax does not apply to medical treatments, prescription drugs or normal grocery items.
I know this will not impact any one household to a major degree, but when it's added together, it would generate approximately $250,000 annually for the City’s use. This could be used for numerous projects. And each project would have to be approved by a vote from the City Commission.
The other issue is the referendum to change the Ute Water Tax from being strictly reserved for infrastructure to bring Ute water to Tucumcari to allow using that one quarter of a penny tax which is already being collected to be able to use it for the needs I mentioned earlier. This will require a vote of the citizens of Tucumcari which will probably be held in March.
When I first ran for the Commission, I only made one promise and that was to do what I thought was best for the citizens of Tucumcari. The reason I only made that one promise is because I know you cannot tell what the future will bring, weather good or bad. At this point in time, I believe that this is the best way for Tucumcari to prosper and grow as it should.
I am not going to tell you that Tucumcari will dry up and die on the vine if we do not pass these two items. However, I will tell you that in my opinion Tucumcari will suffer greatly if we do not pass them.
We are having a Town Hall Meeting Dec. 2, 6 p.m. at the Tucumcari Convention Center to explain this to the citizens of Tucumcari and to get your input. We would deeply appreciate your participation in this process because it is your future and your children's future at stake.
I am also asking my fellow Commissioners to write their opinions and submit them to you. If you have any questions or comments for any Commissioner, please call City Hall during working hours at 461-3451 and they will get hold of us and we will return your call as soon as possible.
Jim Witcher is the mayor of Tucumcari. Contact him through Tucumcari City Hall at 461-3451.