Letter To The Editor: Support Regional Transit GRT Reauthorization

By PETE SHEEHEY
Los Alamos County Councilor

The citizens of four counties, including Los Alamos, voted in 2008 to authorize a 1/8 percen Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) increment to support regional mass transit. Although no ending date was voted upon, these counties imposed a Jan. 1, 2024 sunset date.

On this November’s ballot, we are asked to reauthorize the tax by removing the sunset date. I strongly support a yes vote to continue the high value transit services that it provides. For people here who don’t have a car or the ability to drive, good transit service is a lifeline.

All tax expenditures deserve scrutiny. This tax increment clearly provides good value to Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Taos counties. Our transit systems are able to use the GRT funds as local matching funds to obtain substantial additional federal transportation tax support. In this way, 25 percent of the regional NCRTD “Blue Bus” system budget comes from federal funds. Our own Atomic City Transit system and the Santa Fe Trails bus system also receive support from this GRT.

Los Alamos is proud to be a founding partner of the NCRTD system, which has grown to provide hundreds of thousands of rides per year to people throughout north central New Mexico. NCRTD in recent years has won Government Finance Officers Association awards for the accuracy of its Comprehensive Financial Reports. If the GRT that supports 60 percent of NCRTD’s budget is uncertain after 2024, it will be difficult for the system to make the long-term investments needed to continue its operations efficiently.

Reauthorizing this increment will not increase any taxes, but it will allow our valuable transit systems to continue to serve the people of northern New Mexico. I urge you to vote yes on the County Regional Transit Gross Receipts Tax Reauthorization.

CSTsiteisloaded