SF Update, BernCo Tax & Frozen Molasses

Bernalillo Utility Bills Will Be Rising: The Bernalillo County Commission, last night voted 3-2 to adopt the “Taxpayer Protection Act.” Commissioners Maggie Hart-Stebbins, Art De La Cruz and Debbie O’Malley voted to pass this act that violates state statute and is nothing more than another tax on utility services. Commissioners Johnson and Talbert stood steadfastly against the measure.

The bill requires utility companies to negotiate individually and in private with BernCo to determine what amount the company will pay for Right-of-Way usage fees in the unincorporated areas of the County. Statute provides that the County may charge for actual expenses incurred in right-of-way maintenance; it does not provide for the County to get as much as they can from individual companies. The statute also flies in the face of transparency and is not an acceptable way to govern.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of those affected by this ordinance are the poorest in the County. They will now have another tax on each utility bill, including gas, electric, telephone, … etc. The largest number of those affected are primarily in Commissioner Art de la Cruz’s district, who tried to loudly shame utilities into not charging the fee, but rather absorb it. He, like many progressives, don’t understand how regulated utilities work, nor do they care. Fees, taxes and other government mandated costs cannot simply be ‘absorbed’ if the company plans to stay in business.

Voters can decide if Commissioners are acting in their best interests or not the next time these folks are up for election.

It Sure is Cold at the Roundhouse: This session is like trying to swim through frozen molasses. So far, there seems to be little will to get much constructive work done, but the tension is mounting as partisan issues abound. The Senate Finance Committee is meeting in earnest, holding hearings and sorting through the many budget issues and requests. While this is a budgetary session, there are other issues that need to be addressed. If anything productive is going to happen remains to be seen.

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