olden, Colo. – The voters of Sierra County, N.M., approved an increase in local gross receipts tax to support the construction of Spaceport America, labeled as the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.
Sierra County joined adjacent Doa Ana County in forming a Tax Development District, a requirement the New Mexico State Legislature placed on funding Spaceport America. In a statement, New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) Executive Director Steve Landeene summed up the significance of the outcome of the special election this way: “Spaceport America is real and it’s happening, right here in New Mexico.”
The election means that there will be an increase in local gross receipts tax by one-quarter of 1 percent. With all precincts reporting, 65 percent of voters approved the gross receipts tax increase.
The formation of the tax district will allow funding for the construction of Spaceport America. In November, voters in adjacent Otero County will go to the polls to decide on a similar tax measure in that county.
Meanwhile, NMSA officials are pressing forward in their efforts to gain a site operator’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They also are negotiating a finalized agreement from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic as the spaceport’s anchor tenant. The spaceport needs both the anchor tenant and an FAA license for the project to move forward.
Virgin Galactic plans to use Spaceport America as the focal point of its passenger-carrying suborbital space tourism business, making use of the White Knight Two and SpaceShipTwo system now in development at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif.