On Tuesday, voters throughout much of northern New Mexico will go to the polls to decide on whether to increase property taxes to pay for capital improvements at Luna Community College. In some areas, there will be races for the college’s Board of Trustees.
In the Las Vegas-based District 2, incumbent Tony Valdez is facing Marsha Archuleta and Tommy Ortiz. In the Santa Rosa-based District 4, Frankie Tenorio is taking on incumbent Kenneth Flores. And in Springer-based District 6, Robert Portillos and David Gutierrez are vying for the seat now held by Don Shaw, who decided not to run for another term.
Just as important is the proposed tax increase, which would translate into a $52 annual hike in property taxes for the owner of a home worth $100,000.
As we have stated before in this space, we urge voters to cast their ballots against this tax increase. In past years, we have discovered egregious expenses for perks for top officials at the college, and when the trustees received such scrutiny, they either got angry or ignored it. Also, some of the projects targeted in the tax-hike proposal don’t appear to be a good use of taxpayers’ money, including the more than $250,000 for a building in very lightly populated Watrous.
Also, Luna doesn’t know how long the tax will last. It will depend on the life of the bonds, which can be anywhere from five to 20 years, according to the ballot proposal. The county treasurer says it would have been better if Luna had presented a maturity date for voters.
We’re also troubled that Luna President Pete Campos hasn’t been making much of a case for the tax increase in the months leading up to this election. Sure, we know he is a state senator who has been attending the legislative session since mid-January. But don’t voters in northern New Mexico deserve a year-round president who is willing to be front and center in the effort to seek a tax hike?
We urge voters to say no to this tax increase.