Property owners group wants lower tax rates

by Carol Bridge

COLFAX COUNTY — Linda Gallegos, Colfax County Assessor, gave a quarterly report during the recent Colfax County Commissioners’ session, saying a new group has formed with the intent of lobbying for lower tax rates.

Gallegos’ report dealt mostly with legislative issues that may affect Colfax County. She reported a group of about 50 wealthy landowners have formed an organization called Western Alliance and are seeking to pressure the state into giving them an even lower tax rate. This rangeland is already in the lowest possible tax bracket and the concern is that they are seeking to relieve themselves of their responsibility at the expense of all other property tax payers.

It was also announced Gallegos was recently elected Chairman of State Assessors for New Mexico by acclamation. This is not only a great honor for Linda but also reflects on the integrity of Colfax County government as a whole. Commissioner Landon Newton was physically absent from the meeting but participated by Skype. The line up of positions within the board will be unchanged for the coming year; Bill Sauble, Chairman, Landon Newton, Vice Chairman and Roy Fernandez, Commissioner. Routine certification of the number of miles of road that the county is responsible for was unchanged at 570.

Commissioner Newton informed the board this number may change next year as more subdivisions are requesting help maintaining their roads. The commissioners voted on indigent care medical bills for the month approving the $9,276 expenditure. A backlog of bills from MCMC that had gone out to the City of Raton, the Colfax Sheriff’s Department and the New Mexico State Police of $43,135 has been sorted due to misunderstandings regarding which agency was the arresting or responsible party. The commissioners approved payment. Payment to Taos Pines for $18,034 was approved. Bids were sent out for the lease of two front end loaders.

A letter in support of the Cimarron Watershed Alliance for their grant application was approved along with a letter of support for the Dawson Cemetery Endowment Fund. Glenn Stevens gave a brief report from the road department. Chairman Bill Sauble brought up the problem of the Gardner Bridge and county manager Mary Lou Kern addressed this by saying a meeting has been set up with an engineer regarding this. The road to the bridge is city owned and is in extremely poor condition.

Thomas Vigil, Colfax Emergency Management Coordinator gave a brief report of the recent helicopter crash and how the local agencies responded. City and county law enforcement, ambulance and fire, NMSP, Maxwell Fire and NM state wildlife all took part in rescue and recovery efforts. The fire ignited by the crash led first responders to the site in rough terrain.

Sauble gave an update on items before state lawmakers and Newton presented an update regarding statewide economic development. In the manager’s docket, Kern gave an update on the detention center construction; moving the magistrate court to the district court building; personnel policy updates; county CPR training, and progress in the newly created RAIN (Regional Agency Intervention Network) organization. She said leadership of RAIN is forming and they are planning ways to form subgroups and to connect with already existing agencies and groups who are dealing with mental health and drug abuse issues in the region.