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EDITORIAL: Vote no on tax hike

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By The Staff

Prospective investors often look at a number of factors when considering putting their money into an organization — stability in management, soundness of decisions, financial practices.

Taxpayers are no different.

On March 3, voters will decide whether they want to increase property taxes to pay for projects across Luna Community College’s service area. Based on Luna’s track record of recent years, we urge taxpayers to vote no.

If the bond issue were to pass, a resident owning a home worth $100,000 would see a $52 annual increase in property taxes.

In recent years, the college’s Board of Trustees has shown a tendency to spend freely when it comes to perks for themselves and other top officials. The Optic has tracked such spending, and it hasn’t been pretty: $89-a-person meals, possibly including alcohol; a top-of-the-line sport utility vehicle for the president, featuring a satellite radio and top-quality speakers; sizable bonuses for the president and other top officials as part of a state grant (and the president at the time admitted he did no real work for the money); train trips much more expensive than plane rides; huge expense accounts for the president; and tens of thousands of dollars for travel.

When we reported such spending, many in the public expressed outrage that this kind of behavior was going on at Luna. The reaction of the trustees? Either indifference or anger over such scrutiny.

And yet they want still more of your money.

Another argument against the bond issue is the recent instability at Luna. Over a year’s time, the college saw two of its presidents leave under clouds of sexual harassment allegations.

To be sure, Pete Campos, the new president, took over just a few months ago, and since then, the trustees have reportedly held nearly all of their meetings entirely in the open. That’s a welcome change. For too long, this board has met too often behind closed doors, sending a message to the public that Luna’s business is none of your business.

If Campos turns things around, we would be glad to support a well-thought-out bond issue for improvements to Luna buildings.

To be sure, the plans for the bond issue are questionable in certain regards. For instance, why do we need to pour $250,000 into equipment for a building in Watrous, a very small community just 20 miles north of Las Vegas? One Watrous leader says there aren’t enough people in that area to support having a Luna operation there.

Moreover, Luna must wage an all-out campaign to convince voters to support this tax increase. The college has not, and Campos’ underlings aren’t to blame for this. The campaign for a tax hike requires the active leadership of the top dog, but Campos, a state senator, has been in Santa Fe since mid-January.

Again, we encourage voters to vote no on this bond issue.