City Council approves tax hike to boost public safety | KOB 4
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City Council approves tax hike to boost public safety

Kassi Nelson and KOB.com Web Staff
March 05, 2018 10:14 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Albuquerque City Councilors approved raising the gross receipts tax at its meeting Monday evening.

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The proposal says public safety will be the first priority for utilizing the additional tax revenues. It raises the tax by three-eighths of 1 percent. Some city leaders say this tax hike is crucial to deal with a growing public safety crisis, not enough police officers, and too much crime.

The increase passed with an 8-1 vote. City Councilor Brad Winter said he doesn't think raising taxes will help keep our streets safer.

"Is it possible that part of the problem in recruiting and retention is having the DOJ here for maybe another six years?" he said. "And another thing is it really going to help the DAs office to prosecute offenders? I don't think it is."

He said he wanted the tax to go before voters, but other city councilors said there's no time.

"We haven't raised taxes in the city since 2000 and we are far behind and we admit it," Councilor Trudy Jones said. "We need to readjust our priorities and this has to be number one."

The Albuquerque Police Officers Association supports the hike.

The City of Albuquerque faces a $40 million deficit while at the same time is proposing to hire 400 new police officers. The tax is estimated to bring in more than $43 million in just the first year, and that could go to hiring more officers.

While councilors passed the tax hike, they decided to take more time on a plan for getting the Albuquerque Police Department fully staffed and funded.

It would require APD to be the mayor's and the city council's top priority at the start of each fiscal year. It also calls for a study every five years on officer pay and recruitment.

The council plans to take it up again on April 2.

Meanwhile, a couple of city councilors have launched a new effort to decriminalize marijuana. Right now, it's a $50 fine, and a possible stay in jail for first-time offenders caught with an ounce or less.

Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton have introduced a measure calling for no more than a $25 ticket and no jail time.

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Kassi Nelson and KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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