Thursday, December 17, 2009

County Assessor Addresses Anthony Incorporation

County Assessor Gary Perez Addressed a crowd of about 40 persons at Anthony Elementary School last night, laying bare the facts about the tax implications should citizens vote for the incorporation of Anthony.

Bottom Line: Property taxes will go up. According to Perez statutes require newly formed municipalities to raise at least $200,000 on their own before qualifying for other kinds of public funds. Should officials--still to be elected--impose new property taxes on the community, these would have to be raised 12.7% in order to reach the magic level of 200,000. For a residence with a market value of $60,000 this would amount to $656.04. Raising property taxes to the level imposed by Hatch, Mesilla, and Sunland Park, would raise taxes almost 10% but would only generate $149,000.

Perez was careful to qualify his remarks by indicating that newly elected officials could, if they chose, opt not to raise property taxes at all, but he did not explain how the new municipality would then raise the needed $200,000. In reponse to a question from the audience, he said he knew of no municipality that does not impose new property taxes, but he admitted he is not well versed in municipal financing.

Victor Montoya, who is associated with those in favor of incorporation, asserted that "millions" could be raised from the imposition of new gross receipts taxes, charging fees for services, charging for building permits, fees for parking, etc., including non-tax revenues.

Karen Nichols, a resident of Anthony, said she was "absolutely appalled" that with the election already under way, citizens had not been informed until now by any impartial party about the implications of incorporation. Perez agreed, indicating he thought new statutes should require timely, objective disclosure of how incorporation would affect residents. In preparing for a presentation to the county commission on behalf of Moving Anthony Forward, Perez said, Mr. Frank Coppler did not contact him about the tax implications, relying instead on informal communications with a staff member of his office, and as a consequence Coppler provided incorrect information to the county commission.

One question asked of Mr. Perez was why Green Acres, a relatively wealthy neighborhood in Anthony, had not been included in the map of incorporation. Mr Perez indicated he had nothing to do with the boundary lines, inasmuch as they were drawn up by the faction advocating incorporation. Later, I asked Mr. Robert Medina, one of the persons in the audience, if he knew the answer. He said, "simple, they know what's going on and they don't want their property taxes to go up. Had they been included they would have led a movement against incorporation."

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