Pojoaque Valley Democrats recently gathered in the former Pojoaque Valley postal office, which closed in 2008, on NM 502 just west of town. A local resident for 58 years, Jo Ann Serna, donated the facility, as well as utilities and phones, to be used as the Santa Fe County Democratic Party of Pojoaque Valley headquarters.
About 30 people, mostly over the age of 50, chatted over coffee, bottled drinks and platters of blueberry muffins.
Voices resounded around the tiny facility as local Democrats, with a proclivity for defending their values, discussed a range of issues concerning national and local politics. Mike Williams, Pojoaque resident and longtime Democratic organizer, brought the meeting to order. “We want [the donated facility] to be an information center and rally point,” he said.
The facility provides a range of services including voter registration, phone banking, sample ballots, early voting, and also serves to inform curious voters on the range of issues steaming in the political atmosphere.
One local issue raised by Pojoaque Valley resident Mike Maley concerns the Santa Fe County Fire Protection Excise Tax. The tax was originally enacted in the 1980’s and provided funding for 14 volunteer fire districts, including the Pojoaque Volunteer Fire Department. In 2008, the one-quarter percent tax expired, but will be on the ballot for renewal in November for voters in unincorporated Santa Fe County.
If reinstituted, the tax is estimated to provide $1.24 million in funding towards the Santa Fe County Fire Department. The one-quarter percent tax amounts to 25 cents on every $100 spent on non-food and non-medical items purchased in unincorporated Santa Fe County.
“This is especially important for a place like Pojoaque because we service, in addition to the Valley, three different Pueblo properties, including Buffalo Thunder,” Maley says. “We have a lot of old fire trucks, ambulances and things like that that are sitting in our fire stations that are way past their lifetime,” he adds.
The funding the tax provides, says David Sperling, County Fire Chief, “gets used throughout to replace apparatus and new equipment. It’s an essential funding source.”
Sperling says his department has lost over $4 million in tax revenue that could have been used for capital improvement. Pojoaque needs two new fire engines, a rescue truck, a tender. In addition to those needs, the surrounding area needs a new substation in El Rancho and the substation in Nambe requires remodeling.
A call to the Republican Party of Santa Fe Chair Bruce Larsen was not returned by deadline.
If you have an opinion on whether or not the Santa Fe County Fire Protection Excise Tax should be renewed in November, comment below.