Spaceport tax follies

Getting voters in southern New Mexico to approve a sales tax increase to help fund Spaceport America—something Doña Ana County narrowly approved this spring—was supposed to be the hard part. It turns out actually enacting the tax and collecting the money is proving more difficult. County officials found in recent weeks that while they could collect the tax money, they could not spend it (including the share devoted to educational activity), until two neighboring counties, Sierra and Otero, pass their own tax referenda and create a “spaceport district”. Since neither county has immediate plans to approve a tax, Doña Ana county commissioners voted last week to delay implementation of the tax, scheduled to go into effect on January 1.

Not so fast, say state officials. On Friday the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department notified the county that it has to start collecting the tax as scheduled, district or no district. According to latest reports, county commissioners held a closed session Monday to discuss their options, which could include legal action, but declined to talk about the session afterwards.

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