NEW MEXICO (KAMR / KCIT) – In the upcoming November election, residents of many school districts in the eastern New Mexico region will be able to make the decision on various bond elections, deciding whether their respective districts would be able to make improvements. in the future.
MyHighPlains.com spoke with officials from two districts in the eastern New Mexico region to see how they would use the bond funds if passed and how it would impact the taxpayer.
Municipal Schools of the Monks
After about seven years of trouble and further study, officials at the Des Moines Municipal School District are posting $ 2.1 million bail to voters in the November election in a bid to “erect, remodel, expand and furnish. school buildings ”.
With this link, the district would move all of its grade levels, Kindergarten to Grade 12, into one building. Damon Brown, chairman of the district school board, said it was the recommendation of several entities that have done studies on current buildings in the district.
“Frankly, having a new building more suited to our climate (that’s important). The building we have now is very difficult to heat and it is very difficult to maintain in our part of the world, ”he said. “The new construction will take all of this into account and will be more efficient, in terms of energy consumption, heating and cooling, as well as maintaining. “
The new building would save on the maintenance costs of this new building, which would be smaller and more appropriate for the district’s current workforce, Brown said. It also helps the district anticipate potential health and safety situations that could arise if the bond does not pass.
District superintendent Kodi Sumpter said the building serves as a centerpiece for the community, as well as an education center. It is important for them that the community has a voice in the process.
“We want their voice in it,” she said. “It’s really, really important to us that the voice of the community is heard. “
Brown said this election is the way for voters to participate in their school district property.
“You know, this is the building of our community. It is the school of our community, ”he said. “We, as the board of directors, are their spokespersons, but it is theirs. They must vote their conscience on this and participate in this process. “
Dora Consolidated Schools
For the Dora Consolidated School District, a new industry moving within the district boundaries gives officials the ability to make campus improvements through a surety election with no additional impact on taxpayers, even if the surety is approved by government officials. voters.
According to a leaflet provided to MyHighPlains.com by the district, the preliminary assessed property value of Dora Consolidated Schools is expected to increase by 226% after the addition of the Sagamore wind farm in the district.
The Sagamore Wind Farm Project in Roosevelt County, operated by Xcel Energy, was completed in December 2020 and is expected to serve more than 190,000 homes in the region and employ 20 to 30 full-time jobs to continue operations on the wind farm, according to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com.
Due to the preliminary increase in assessed land values in the district, Brandon Hays, the superintendent of Dora Consolidated Schools, said the district was able to post a $ 3.5 million bond on the November ballot. , without impact on the tax rate of $ 7.98 for residents if it were adopted. Adding the industry to the region will not benefit the district financially unless the district comes out on a bond, Hays said.
“The goal is to continue to serve future generations of Dora students by maintaining and improving our current facilities,” the district leaflet says. “… Wind towers have a lifespan of 20 years and begin to depreciate rapidly after the first few years. This is why moving a bond early in its life is essential to maximize the amount of the bond without increasing the current tax rates of citizens.
This link will give the district the ability to carry out “several large projects” that must be completed in order for the school to remain operational for the next 16 to 20 years, Hays said.
“These include all new HVAC systems throughout the district. They have all aged, ”he said. “Our roof has about four years of useful life across the district, so we are looking at siding the existing roof and getting an additional 20 year warranty. We have a lot of problems with parking, potholes and so on, cracks separating, drainage problems, that we’re looking to fix.
To ensure taxes don’t increase for district residents, Hays said the district decided to split the link into two parts if passed. This initial $ 2.5 million would cover the necessary large projects. The additional $ 1 million would be added if taxes were not increased for residents. The addition would cover more parking, new baseball lights, and other ADA and bathroom upgrades.
This election of bail for the campus improvements could make or break Dora’s consolidated schools, Hays said, giving the district the ability to use the funds that would be used for the operational expenses of the district’s students in the future.
“For a small school, even a small village, a school is vital for our community. I’m not going to say that if we don’t pass the bond we’re going to lose our school. But having a great school means a lot of our kids come to Dora, ”Hays said. “We are actually 70% transferred from outside our district and so it is important that our school continues to function, function and look good in order to continue having children in the building… The school is so central to the community: ball games, events. For me, that’s one of the main reasons to vote, so that we don’t become like some of those other school districts that have lost their schools and their communities are drying up.
Capital improvement tax
Many districts in New Mexico will also have a measure tied to a school capital improvement tax during the November election ballot. Some of the districts that should have this measurement on the ballot include:
- Municipal schools of Portales;
- Municipal schools of Dora;
- Elda municipal schools;
- Municipal Schools House;
- San Jon Municipal Schools;
- the municipal schools of Logan;
- the municipal schools of Melrose;
- the municipal schools of Grady;
- Municipal schools of the Monks;
- the municipal schools of Clayton;
- Springer Municipal Schools.
Hays said this capital improvement tax had already been granted to school districts through the implementation of Senate Bill Nine by the New Mexico state legislature. This $ 2 million tax, which is currently in effect, is $ 2 per $ 1,000 of net assessed property value. Every six years, the state must go back to voters and renew the tax.
If that measure is not renewed, Hays said the state of New Mexico will not contribute up to a district’s capital improvement funds. In the case of Dora Consolidated Schools, the district tax rate would remain the same at $ 7.98.
“The state and our funding formula don’t give us money for, you know, the maintenance of our buildings and so this tax allows us to finance our maintenance, our repairs, our small basic improvements”, a- he declared.
Since this measure is on the back of the ballot, Hays encouraged individuals to return the ballot to vote on the Capital Improvement Tax item.
For more election coverage for other communities across the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico, visit MyHighPlains.com.