I have to admit I have mixed emotions about a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that clears the way for states to collect sales taxes from Internet retailers such as Amazon.
As a consumer, I’d rather not have to pay a little bit extra when I purchase the product I want online.
But I understand local governments being in favor of a little shot in the arm.
And I know a few local businesses aren’t upset with online competition no longer being able to sell products tax
But questions still remain after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the South Dakota vs. Wayfair Inc. case in June.
Just ask Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker.
“The question is … is it going to go in the state coffers? Or is it going to go to the zip code where they sell the stuff?” Bhasker asked during an interview I had with him last month. “When you order, I assume they’re going to put a zip code on it. I’d like to know that from the state.”
State Rep. Gail Armstrong, who represents Socorro County, told me local governments would be receiving their share. She believed the revenue would go to the zip code where the sales were recorded.
That would be good news for Bhasker and other city and county officials. Both the City of Socorro and Socorro County have been going through budget crunches over the past few years
“It’s going to start adding up a little bit, even if it’s $2,000 or $3,000,” Bhasker said. “We’d like to know how it’s going to be distributed. How are they going to be collecting it?”
It may not be cut and dry that local governments will see the money according to a June 21 story by the New York
According to The Times, quirks in the tax codes in states such as New Mexico and Pennsylvania may prevent local jurisdictions from taxing remote sellers.
Car charge stations?
Could a settlement with Volkswagen pave the way for electric car charging stations in places such as Socorro or Truth Consequences?
The New Mexico Environment Department is the lead agency in the disbursement of more than $18 million in settlement funding stemming from a smog device emission scandal.
The issue was the topic of discussion at the Middle Rio Grande Economic Development Association meeting a couple of weeks ago in T-or-C.
Sierra Electric Cooperative General Manager Denise Barrera told the MRGEDA Board of Directors that the New Mexico and Oklahoma electric co-op associations were pushing for electric car charging stations along the Interstate 40 and 25 corridors.
A portion of the funds from the settlement may be used for the charging stations. The funding would be available in 2019. Municipalities and other entities would have to apply for the funding. From Barrera’s understanding, municipalities would receive 100 percent funding, while other entities would have to provide matching funds.
“This is the future,” Barrera said. “This is what we’ve got to do.”
Socorro would seem like an ideal spot for charging stations given the distance between the Albuquerque and Las Cruces metro areas and the town’s central location in the state. There are websites that list the locations of stations. There are a few sites in Socorro and T-or-C.
“The more we have, the more marketable we are as a region,” said MRGEDA Chair Bruce Swingle, who is the Sierra County Manager.
MRGEDA Board Member Don Boyd raised the issue during his mayoral campaign earlier this year. Boyd suggests a location on the Plaza in hopes that travelers would also include stopping at local businesses in addition to charging their cars.
Municipalities can also apply for funding for the purchase of electric vehicles. Funding can also be used for school buses.
Early Council meetings
Do you prefer attending Socorro City Council meetings at night? Or would you rather go in the daytime?
That’s an issue councilors discussed at their meeting earlier this month.
Councilors discussed an alternative meeting time of 1 p.m. instead of the 6 p.m. time the Council currently meets.
Councilors even discussed splitting the meetings up, with one meeting at 1 p.m. and another at 6 p.m. Among the thoughts behind it? It would allow department heads and other employees to attend meetings and not have to worry about overtime.
The Socorro County Board of Commissioners currently meets at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. That is among the reasons behind its early meeting.
As a reporter, I personally prefer early meetings. As the publisher, I prefer to be available at the office much of the day. But on Monday evenings when the Council or the Socorro Consolidated Schools Boards meet, I’m usually looking at a 12-hour day.
But I also wonder if night meetings would be better for the public. That said, if something controversial is on the Board of County Commissioners agenda, I’ve seen some pretty large crowds at its morning meetings at the Socorro County Annex Building.