Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Voters OK tax hike

Gena and Kevin Wilkerson of Clovis walk into Marshall Junior High School before voting in Tuesday’s election.

Clovis voters approved a quarter-percent gross-receipts tax increase for the city by a more than 2-to-1 margin Tuesday.

Voters favoring the tax hike numbered 2,234; those opposed were 1,077.

City officials attributed the success to a comprehensive marketing strategy and a vigorous sales job. Mayor David Lansford credited City Manager Raymond Mondragon and Assistant City Manager Joe Thomas, and their staffs, with designing the campaign.

“I think the percentage shows voters believe in the integrity and trustworthiness of the city commission,” Lansford said.

Mondragon said he and Thomas visited 39 civic organizations in recent months to explain the need for the tax increase.

“We had the full support of the city commission. The commission held a press conference at the beginning of the campaign and we had the public support of the Realtors, the homebuilders, the Martin Luther King Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation,” he said.

“I’m extremely glad it went the way that it did,” said Thomas. “Clovis has momentum now and we have to be sure not to lose it.”

A similar proposed quarter-percent gross-receipts tax increase failed in 2002 by more than 800 votes (59 to 41 percent).

Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos said one reason for this proposal’s success is economic.

“I’m just very excited that voters can see the needs the city will have as it grows,” she said.

“People can see what’s happening in the city, the positive momentum, and they can see a vision at work,” said Chase Gentry, executive director of the CIDC.

Officials have said the tax increase will help pay for the cost of infrastructure improvements and new city equipment and will free up other money in the city’s general fund for employee raises.

“One of the things I have on my bulletin board, marked ‘make it happen,’ is to move forward for city employees,” Mondragon said.

The tax proposal passed in an election marked by the lowest voter turnout since 1992, according to the city clerk’s office.

Total turnout was 3,398, about 23 percent of registered voters in the city, the clerk’s office said.

In comparison, 5,010 voters, about 35 percent of registered voters, participated in the 2002 city election, and 5,002, or 34 percent of registered voters, participated in the 2000 city election.

Lansford, Mondragon and Thomas said they had no explanation for the low turnout.

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