Steve Landeene, director of New Mexico’s Spaceport America since his appointment in early January, last week asked Sierra County voters to approve a 0.125% sales tax to help finance the state facility.
A vote on the tax is set for April 8. The spaceport will be built on 27 square miles of remote ranchland about 30 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences and 45 miles north of Las Cruces.
“This tax really holds the key to unleashing world history right here in Sierra County,” Landeene said at a Sierra County Commission meeting. “Nobody likes taxes, but you have to ask yourself, 'What is the value proposition for Sierra County?’ ”
Landeene said Spaceport America could generate $1 billion in economic development and 2,250 jobs within the first five years of operation.
The three counties in the region must approve the tax before a regional spaceport district can be established. The tax cannot be levied until the district is a reality. Once it is established, the district can use a portion of the tax revenue to support bonds for construction of the spaceport.
The estimated $57.9 million of bonds to be supported by a three-county regional spaceport authority is an essential component in financing for the $198 million project. The state Legislature has dedicated $115 million of severance tax bond proceeds to the facility.
Doña Ana County voters narrowly approved the sales tax increase in 2007. Otero County has not yet set an election on the proposal.