Lincoln county voters approve tax to help Ruidoso Downs

Staff and wire reports

RUIDOSO — Lincoln County voters have approved a five-year gross receipts tax aimed at helping Ruidoso Downs racetrack.

The tax proposal passed by 420 votes in Tuesday’s mail-in election. County officials reported 3,719 votes supporting the tax and 3,299 opposed.

The county will increase the gross receipts tax by 3/16ths of a cent on goods and services. It is expected to fund up to $750,000 each year.

Ruidoso Downs officials have said the track and its casino have lost money because of competition from two nearby Indian casinos.

Supporters say the tax will preserve about 1,000 jobs and maintain the racetrack’s heritage in the mountain resort region. Opponents argued that it’s not appropriate to use public money to support a private company.

In July, news surfaced the racetrack had approached several communities in the state — including Clovis — in consideration of relocating its operation from Ruidoso.

Clovis officials said they responded with a standard proposal often given to businesses looking at the community as a possible location of operations and includes information about what the area can do for them from an economic development standpoint.