Dona Ana County Residents Could End Up Paying for Spaceport Indefinitely

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

The tax that residents of Dona Ana County voted to impose upon themselves to help fund the development of Spaceport America has no expiration date, meaning it could continue indefinitely after bonds used to pay for the construction are paid off in 2028, according to a review by KRWG TV/Radio.

Critics of the spaceport have said the .25 cent increase in the gross receipts tax should end after the construction bonds are paid off. They have also objected to the use of taxes in excess of what is needed to pay off the bonds to plug holes in the spaceport’s budget. They want the money to be used to pay off the bonds early.

KRWG’s Fred Martino did something that apparently had not occurred to anyone: he dug up the 2007 ordinance that county commissioners approved for the tax. The document has no expiration date and no restrictions on using revenues for spaceport operations.

To change the situation, county commissioners would need to pass an ordinance ending the tax and restricting the use of surplus tax revenues for operations.

New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) CEO Dan Hicks said he needs the tax to continue so the authority will have funding to expand the spaceport and attract new tenants to it. Spaceport America is in stiff competition with other spaceports around the country, he said.

NMSA has struggled financially due to years of delays by anchor tenant Virgin Galactic in flying suborbital space tourist flights from the southern New Mexico facility.

Sierra County voters also approved a similar tax increase to help pay for the spaceport.

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  • Stu

    Sunk cost fallacy in action…

  • Larry Gioannini

    Who will check the Sierra County ordinance?

  • Cliff Shadow

    All the New Mexico civil servants associated with SPA have to protect their phony jobs somehow. This is a good way.

  • Hemingway

    Branson announces Virgin Galactic will start a pizza delivery service. Branson will donate a penny per pizza sold to Dona Ana County(This is satire but is not far from the false promises of Branson in the past)
    https://thedailyherald.sx/islands/64859-domino-s-st-maarten-to-make-pizza-delivery-to-outer-space