ARTESIA, N.M. — Eddy County voters have gathered enough petition signatures to force a special election to decide if tax increases approved by county commissioners should stand.

The Eddy County Commission in May approved a one-eighth of 1 percent gross receipts tax increase to build a county detention center and another one-eighth of 1 percent increase to general purpose gross receipts, the Roswell Daily Record reported ( ).

Artesia leaders, including Mayor Phillip Burch, spearheaded petition efforts.

Burch said after talking with people in the community, he is convinced that the increases will be defeated.

Eddy County assistant county manager Kenney Rayroux said the tax increases are estimated to generate $3.3 million annually. The detention center currently costs the county about $13 million a year to operate, and a new one could cost as much as $70 million, Rayroux said.

Collectively, the gross receipt tax increases would add an extra 33 cents of sales taxes for every $100 spent on goods and services.

The special election could cost about $52,000, Eddy County Clerk Robin Van Natta said.

“I’m recommending an all-mail (election),” Van Natta said. “Either way, polling places or by mail is the same — we’ve got to spend a lot of money.”

The election must take place within 60 days of the petitions being deemed qualified, Van Natta said. A notice of qualification will be issued on Thursday, she said.

Information from: Roswell Daily Record,