Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What to Expect If Anthony Incorporates

1. If Anthony incorporates, your taxes will go up. County Assessor Gary Perez was clear: Hatch, Mesilla, and Sunland Park raised property taxes when they incorporated. Anthony will raise property taxes 13% to get to a city budget of $200,000. The tiny portion of the sales tax that will stay with Anthony will not yield enough (Anthony has very few businesses compared to Hatch and Mesilla) so sales taxes will go up too. If property taxes are raised to cover the whole $200,000, this means for a residence valued at $65,000 the tax would go up from $630 to $711, an increase of about $7.00 per month

2. Don't expect lavish services. Santa Fe attorney Frank Coppler, in his $200,000 budget, promised only a municipal court, a clerk-treasurer, and one police officer, as services. Since court and clerk-treasurer services are now provided by the county, the net gain for the citizens in services is one police officer. The Coppler budget had no salary for mayor, no travel or utilities, no legal costs. If the council wants these for itself, taxes will go up even more.

3. Are there other possible benefits, aside from the extra police officer? Yes. Under strong leadership, council members, without pay, might begin writing grant proposals, lobbying Santa Fe and Washington for funds, writing a master plan, and attracting new businesses. Governance could improve dramatically. At times this has happened in Sunland Park and Hatch, when leadership was strong. But don't expect miracles. Twenty five years after incorporation, with casino and racetrack, Verde, an international crossing, instant access to El Paso, and dozens of new businesses, the mayor of Sunland Park still makes only about $25,000 and things are far from perfect there. Under poor leadership you are likely to see a council split into warring factions, a disorganized government, and, worse, a feeling that underhanded things are taking place, a lack of transparency in the use of public funds, accusations of favoritism and payoffs, etc.

Bottom Line: Vote Yes if you trust the proponents. Vote No if you don't trust them. The most visible leaders pushing for incorporation are Pat Banegas, Victor Montoya, and Frank Coppler. Montoya's phone number is the point of contact in the MAF web site. If you feel these people have the maturity, trustworthiness, talent, and will power, the ganas, to work selflessly for the good of Anthony, then you should vote yes.

If you don't trust them, vote No. It is always possible if the vote goes through, for a different faction to take over, but it is a long shot, since those who pushed for incorporation usually have the upper hand.

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