City council defers putting proposed gas tax bill on October ballot


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In October, voters will not get to decide if they want to pay more for gas to fix Albuquerque roads after the Albuquerque City Council changed its mind about voting to put the issue on the ballot.

Councilor Isaac Benton, who originally sponsored the bill, is the one who proposed to defer it until Sept. 18, meaning it would be too late to make it on the Oct. 3 ballot.

“Second meeting in November, we’ll have a new mayor elected, a new council elected and we’ll tackle it then,” Benton said.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Councilor Benton moved to defer it and councilors agreed.

“I think any type of taxation is controversial, but what we need to understand is that the city’s revenue is very, very low,” he said. “Given our economy and to provide decent services, we have to consider this, but I think it’s better to consider this after the next election.”

If councilors would have given the bill the green light Monday night, Albuquerque voters would have decided if they’d be willing to pay a tax of two cents per gallon on gas to help improve city roads.

Two weeks ago, councilors put off the final vote after hearing from the public.

Councilor Benton said his decision to pull the proposed gas tax bill has to do with ballot space issues, but University of New Mexico Political Science Professor Gabe Sanchez said he believes a big reason as to why the council decided to hold off on making a decision, is because many of them are up for re-election in October.

“They’re actually seeing more competition than usual, so those folks are a little weary to be on one side of even something perceived to be controversial. The other issue, which is a newer phenomenon this cycle, is you have some city councilors running for other offices,” Sanchez said.

Five out of the nine council seats are up for grabs.

Two councilors are leaving to run for other offices.

If the new council decides to pass the bill in November, Councilor Pat Davis said the issue would be put up to voters in 2019 or the city could hold a special election.

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