Eddy County Board of County Commissioners tabled a proposed 2 percent tax on temporary lodging in unincorporated areas of Eddy County Tuesday.
Commissioners asked Eddy County administration to explore the proposed tax as another way to fund county services.
A 2020 amendment by the New Mexico Legislature to the lodgers’ tax collections allowed counties and municipalities options for use of funds collected during the first 31 days of any temporary stay.
Lodgers’ tax is a tax that property owners and managers collect from renters.
During a public hearing, Eddy County Manager Allen Davis said revenues collected from the 2 percent proposal would have been used for various county services.
Commissioners did not give the proposal a warm reception during the hearing.
“If these monies aren’t earmarked (for county purposes) I can’t see these monies going to the general fund. I’ll never vote for this,” said District 2 Commissioner Jon Henry.
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County Commission Chairperson Steve McCutcheon said his thoughts were “back and forth” on the proposed tax.
“I don’t think I can support it. It’s a tax on those who aren’t paying for anything right now,” he said.
The tax would have been placed on man camps, recreational vehicle parks, and other places of temporary housing outside of the incorporated areas of Hope, Artesia, Carlsbad and Loving.
McCutcheon expressed concerns about possible recourses for recreational vehicle owners.
“When I was running (in District 4 in 2018), I put on my signs, ‘no new taxes.’ I think my word has to be good for the people who voted for me,” he said.
Davis said Eddy County’s original lodgers’ tax which is used to promote tourism in the County was still in place.
“I don’t think the original law envisioned a population living in temporary conditions,” he said. “I don’t think they ever saw that a hotel room would be blocked out for six months.”
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Davis said Eddy County lacked adequate housing during the oil and gas boom to meet the need for the influx of workers.
“(Which) resulted in an evolution on how to use available rooms that were in hotels. They don’t necessarily care all they want is somebody to fill all those rooms every day. They don’t care who. As long as they’re filled every day,” he said.
Davis said a hotel at occupancy meant a thriving business for the property owner.
“When that became restrained and cost prohibited, these other elements evolved out of that. There’s always been RV parks. Snowbirds and fifth wheeling is always a popular deal. But as means of temporary living because I’m working there?” he asked.
Davis said when people notice a school bus picking up kids at an RV park or man-camp. There is a challenge.
“If you’re working there and you want your family with you that’s what you’re going to do,” he said.
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Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.