NM Senator Criticizes Spaceport Spending

May 1, 2014

Republican Sen. Lee Cotter from Las Cruces says he wants the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to stay grounded when it comes to how it uses taxpayer funds.

“Government might not be telling the truth and for me, that’s alarming,” said Sen. Cotter.                            

He is re-introducing a bill next legislative session that would redirect where the Spaceport’s funds come from.

He says his concern goes back to April 3, 2007. That’s when voters in Dona Ana County raised the Gross Receipts tax to pay for the Spaceport.

“Nowhere in the original information did it say to
operate it,” said Cotter

In a written statement to KRWG, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority tells us they do agree with that.

Sen. Cotter on the Spaceport’s spending --

"Right now, with a bunch of parties involved, they [the Spaceport
Authority] get to spend [the money] any way they want," said Cotter.

In the statement, the NMSA says The GRT bond money is not spent on operations.

The authority adds that Excess Pledged Bond Revenue is being addressed, not the GRT bond proceeds.

They add that the NMSA Board and the Tax Bond Board agreed the best use of the these funds was to help the spaceport operate during the transition period between construction and full operation when the spaceport is earning more revenue.

It does not cost the tax payer any additional tax, according to NMSA.

When it comes to daily operations, Cotter wanted to know exactly what the money is being spent on.

"It doesn't follow the spirit of the vote if they use [the money] to
operate the Spaceport. That is what they have been using it for, is
straight salaries," said Cotter.

NMSA says in the statement that the excess pledged revenue has been used for a variety of purposes like paying the spaceport electric bill.

Cotter and the NMSA seem to come to an agreement with the end use of the funds.

"When the payment is over, the tax should be over," said Cotter.

“The payments against the bond debt are being made on schedule. When the bonds are paid the tax should be over,” according to the NMSA.

Time will tell whether Sen. Cotter of the NMSA is correct.