Councilor wants mental health tax hike

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – One of APD’s problems pointed out by a recent Department of Justice report is how the department mishandles those with mental health problems, frequently using force.

In fact, the majority of men shot by APD since 2010 were mentally ill.

But Albuquerque city councilor Klarissa Pena says a lot of the issues stem, in the first place, from an underlying community issue.

“When we’re asking APD officers to go out and become mental health service providers that’s not dealing with the problem,” Pena said.

Pena is proposing a citywide tax hike to address the issue. The proposal would up Albuquerque’s gross receipts tax rate by .125%, enough to raise about $16 million a year.

“It would be for mental health services, for substance abuse, for homelessness and a variety of other services,” Pena said.

Getting the tax hike passed by city council could be tricky enough, but getting Republican Mayor R.J. Berry to sign it if it passed could be even harder.

In a statement, Berry’s chief of staff Gilbert Montano said city staff only recently received a copy of the legislation and are still reviewing it.

Libertarian think tank the Rio Grande Foundation said the proposal appears to be a “knee jerk reaction” to the DOJ report.

Pena acknowledges the road ahead for her idea isn’t easy.

“Always when you’re raising taxes it’s a tough sell,” Pena said. “But I think that if the climate is ever right it’s now.”

Pena intends to introduce the proposal at Monday’s city council meeting.

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