Gas tax considered to fix Santa Fe roads

gas, gas station

SANTA FE (KRQE) – Some drivers in a busy New Mexico city could pay more at the pump.

Santa Fe City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. during which councilors are expected to vote on a resolution that would make it possible for voters to decide on a gas tax of two cents a gallon.

Money from the tax would be used to help bridge the gap in funding to fix up Santa Fe’s roads.

“I know our cars have had some damage over the past couple years of tires or rims being bent from potholes,” Greg Hawkins said.

“Yeah, definitely, especially around winter. It gets pretty potholey,” Shelley Longmire said.

The city estimates street and sidewalk improvements will cost about $237 million. That is money that city councilors say Santa Fe doesn’t have right now.

“Our streets, sidewalks and bridges are crumbling,” said City Councilor Joseph Maestas.

To address that, Councilors Maestas and Peter Ives are sponsoring an ordinance to allow voters to decide on a gas tax of two cents a gallon.

“You put gas in your car, you drive on the street. It’s that constant driving by tens of thousands of vehicles that causes the deterioration,” said Councilor Ives.

A city report shows a tax of two cents a gallon on gas would add up to about $950,000 a year.

“That is the only option we have to really start addressing our incredible funding gap,” Councilor Maestas said.

At least that’s what city councilors will discuss at Wednesday’s meeting. It will begin with a public hearing for feedback from the community before councilors are expected to vote.

If it passes, the gas tax question could be on the ballot on March 1 for Santa Fe voters.

“I think it’s okay,” said George Gurule, a driver in Santa Fe.

“I think we already pay enough as it is,” said Rachael Baca.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales released the following statement on the issue:

Taxes that hurt working people the most are not the way Santa Fe should be approaching this problem. Who are we as a community if we resort to solutions that disproportionately impact workers? That’s not leadership.

Until we get our house in order, and have considered every possibility for running more efficiently and setting our priorities in line with the people, I cannot in good conscience support any tax. And even if we are eventually forced to consider new sources of revenue as a last resort to solve this deficit, we can’t do it with regressive taxes.

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