Santa Fe County hoping to add first responders with tax hike

Correction below.

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe County hopes to hire more firefighters and deputies with a tax hike.

Both departments are getting busier and busier. In the past couple years, the county fire department alone has seen its calls go up by 25 percent.

The proposed gross receipts tax hike would pay for 18 more full-time firefighters and three sheriff’s office positions.

However, the three-sixteenths of a cent sales tax would be costly for county residents, coming out to about 19 cents on every $100 spent.

County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposal June 27.

The Santa Fe County Firefighters Union thinks it’s a no-brainer.

“Santa Fe County as a whole covers a little over 1,900 square miles of coverage. You’ve got only 22 firefighters at any given time trying to provide that coverage,” said Vice President Randy Haugen.

The Santa Fe County Fire Department relies heavily on volunteers. This would make some of them full-time.

If it passes, Santa Fe would have the second highest tax rate of any county in the state. The tax would also affect the city of Santa Fe, which would then have the second-highest tax rate of any city in New Mexico at 8.5 percent.

The tax would also raise almost $7 million a year in revenue, some of which would go toward mental health programs.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposal June 13, however, the County Commissioners are scheduled to vote June 27. 

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