Opponents say levy will cost more than thought

January 16, 2014 • Local News

The mill levy has its opponents, such as Hudson Boue.

“He (President Madden) says that this is not a 200 percent increase. We’re not saying that this is a 200 percent increase in property taxes, but it is a 200 percent increase in millage.”

Boue argues that if the bond issue was retired, that property owners could have seen some relief, a cut of about one-third in property taxes.

Howver, if the millage is voted in, he said property owners will be seeing not a decrease but an increase from 1 to 3 mills, or one-third increase in their property taxes, at a time when most [auth] people are struggling to get by as a result of increased costs of water rates, food, gas and health insurance, to name only a few items.

“I did the calculations. It’s going to cost me 14.2 percent more to live in 2014 to maintain the same standard of living I had in 2013,” Boue said.

He pointed to people with fixed income, such as retirees who have no other resources, who will not only have to struggle to deal with general cost of living increase, but now additional property taxes.

He also believes ENMU-R has an unfair advantage, with only two voting machines for the entire county, one at the Base and one in the County Adminstration building. The college has been registering students for months and research revealed a voter recruitment story appeared in the ENMU-R newsletter as early as September 2013. For many, it will be a hardship to get to either the college or the county building to take advantage of early voters.

“He (Madden) admitted at the (Chaves County Republican Women) luncheon that the millage will not end as a bond issue ends when a project is complete. It will continue,” Boue said.

Carrie Hollifield of Brown Ranch concurs with Boue’s assesment, but she speaks from a county perspective. “I represent the county perspective, the farmers’ perspective and the ranchers’ perspective.”

She said that property taxes for farmers and ranchers included every outbuilding, every shed, every head of cattle and the land in addition to their homes.

“We have just come out of 2 ½ years of the worst drought since the dustbowl days. We sold cattle because we just didn’t have the grass to feed them. This means a loss in next year’s income. We were lucky. We do farming so we could grow feed, but others could not and they will never come back. It just breaks your heart. … Chaves County lost two, possibly three, dairies this last year.”

She resents the college’s attitude.

“He (Madden) says we don’t understand, but I went to the county treasurer and I know exactly what it will cost me — $1,000 per year, and this mill levy is not going to go away. This will last forever.”

The assessed value of the family’s lives stock is $109,000 and had they been able to count on the reduced property taxes, a multiple of 1 mill. “Now I have to multiply it by three.”

Hollifield recognizes the benefit of education and supports higher education, but said, “this is not the time for it.”

“You won’t see a sunset on this mill levy. There is no end date on this. I’m absolutely against that. You don’t hand your wallet over to somebody and let them keep it.

Hollifield, like Boue, also discussed increased costs. “The cost of corn and feed have skyrocketed, with most corn going for ethanol production rather than animal or human consumption.

“My health insurance increased 65 percent this year. Small business owners have been hit hard while middle-sized business have been protected, at least until 2014.”

She, too, cited certain income tax incentives or deductions which are no longer available to the tax payer.

“I don’t mind a bond issue, it goes away eventually. This will stay with us forever.”

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