Tax for Public Safety and E911 Dispatch Center
(Original Post here. The tax passed and voters support the revenue aimed at stabilizing e911 services. Below, Friction offers a brief history of the need, advocacy, and KCEC’s nefarious role.)
High Taxes and Higher Electricity Charges
I want to tell you why I voted for a public safety tax in the interests of fire, EMT brigades, and the local police, despite my opposition to taxes recently passed by the Town, El Prado Water and Sanitation, the hospital, and etc. (I don’t know enough about El Valle de los Ranchos to comment.)
The GRT in town is now at 8.3125%, one of the highest “sales levies” in the state. Like the Coop’s high electricity rates, the GRT is a distinct disadvantage for low-income residents and for entrepreneurs considering investments in new businesses. Call high GRT and high electricity charges “anti-economic development.”
I opposed the prior increase in GRT (sales) taxes because I saw them as subsidies for “incompetent” operations, historic mismanagement and the violation of procurement codes at the Town, EPWSD, and Holy Cross. The recent announcement of Holy Cross Hospital’s potential designation as a “critical access” center was also accompanied by the notion of increasing charges for “Medicare” patients. The burden of increased taxes falls on the population, who can least afford it and the native residents themselves who pay the highest percentage of their income in taxes.
Here’s one of the great thematic ironies of living in Taos. Spiritually, politicians and residents focus on providing a sanctuary for immigrants and oppose the destruction visited on Mother Earth by the Dakota pipeline at Standing Rock. Meanwhile, the tax and spend policies of local government and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative generally serve higher income visitors and newcomers at the expense of the native residents and residents drawn here for cultural, spiritual, and artistic reasons. While you turn your eyes toward Trumpery and Standing Rock, your neighbor is picking your pocket. Taos is a tough town.
Now WE residents are being asked, forced really to pay for KCEC’s folly at the so-called command center. We are effectively paying twice for E911 services. In 2010 KCEC managed to convince the PRC that the faux 10,000 square foot building, costing about $118,000 per year for thirty or forty years, should be considered part of the base electricity rate. Two Coop dispatch employees, occupying a few hundred square feet, hardly justifies the expense of $3 million it cost to build the defunct facility aka Luis’s folly. The building was originally conceived as an E911 center but the Coop couldn’t bring it off.
Since the commissioners and town council saw the need to take responsibility for E911 operations and spend some $1.6 million for a state of the art facility in lieu of KCEC’s bungled project, I applaud and support what I consider necessary for the E911 facility and the EMT, fire and police services.
KCEC itself has become an outlaw outlier in the community by not only increasing rates and exponentially passing on the expenses of the Guzman-Tri-State $37 million buy-out but also by expecting members to pay for failed ventures into diversification: call center, command center, Propane, and Broadband.
Meanwhile, the Coop (?) has also, according to their own admission, retroactively billed members for the recent increase in electricity in a desperate attempt to shore up their increasing cash flow problems. Talk about adding insult to injury! (They confessed to billing retroactively some 6500 members but Interveners believe all 28, 000 members have been screwed.)
I don’t know how much Holy Cross or the schools or the Town pays for electricity each month. But the County paid for only three buildings, in the Aug. 8 to Sept. 1 2016 billing service period, a monthly charge of $18,242 (Detention Center), $5,300 (Administrative Offices) and $1500 (Ag Center) or a total of about $25,000. This summary does not include all the power charges for county-owned and managed facilities like community centers, fire stations, etc.
KCEC has allegedly rationalized, according to PRC testimony, reasons for retroactively billing the County despite the PRC effective date of the Sept. 7, 2016 increase. In effect, KCEC claims that by using the administrative or “bill date” of Sept. 20, not the effective increase date of Sept. 7, that they have an alleged excuse or is it a “right” to pilfer the County’s purse for the August 5 to Sept. 1 period.
Given KCEC’s notorious tactics of “retaliation” against the few non-residential protesters, who spoke with interveners, and KCEC’s sole control of “meter reading” and a bevy of high priced attorneys, it’s no wonder that public officials at the El Prado Water and Sanitation District, the Town, and the County are loathe to protest against KCEC. Trump tweets. KCEC has access to your meter!
Besides, the Trustees at KCEC are known to physically reprimand and otherwise marginalize their own trustees, who disagree with the majority’s policies of exploitation. See the picture of Trustee Virgil Martinez distributed to the media of a man in recovery from the “beat down.”
Currently, the Coop promotes solar energy as the end that justifies the means to spend $37 million dollars with its bankers for no visible asset. Sure CEO Reyes campaigns masterfully with appeals to those who believe this Coop will substitute the lucky old sun for dirty coal some day, in the future, when we have all gone on to live in a better place. Then our energy bills will wither away and we shall all live in state of utopian self-sufficiency as solar arrays dot the landscape and the rooftops as we look down from the clouds.
And I have a slightly used bridge for sale at a reduced price after Valentine’s Day.
Are we supposed to have confidence in the outfit that has spent some $70 million for an incomplete Broadband project with a mere 4000 customers, after six years, according to the Coop’s hyperbolic announcements? You can see for yourself the 10,000 square foot building on Gusdorf, costing $3 million that houses two dispatch employees, right across the street from the Episcopal Church. During the week you see an average of two (2) cars parked behind the gate.
But you don’t need the Coop to tell you how to install rooftop solar panels. You don’t need 11 high priced travel trustees to help you install an energy efficient light bulb. The Coop, according to standard accounting methods, is sliding down the slope toward bankruptcy. So we should all be on the lookout for our own independent access to that lucky old sun. This is not your father’s Coop.