Two years ago voters narrowly rejected a bond that would have provided millions for building projects at colleges and universities across New Mexico.
With a similar measure on this year’s general election ballot, higher education institutions across the state are working hard to educate voters about the benefits of the bond, hoping that it will pass this time around
They’re making their case by stressing that property taxes won’t increase if the measure passes and by pointing out that nearly every corner of the state would benefit from its passage.
The higher education bond, or Bond C, is one of three bonds voters are being asked to approve during the Nov. 6 general election.
Bond A would provide a little more than $10.3 million for capital expenditures for senior citizen centers across the state. Bond B would provide just over $9.8 million for libraries across the state.
But the funding contained in those bond issues pale in comparison to the nearly $120 million that would be generated for colleges and universities through Bond C.
New Mexico Highlands University would get $6 million to renovate its historic Trolley Building while Luna Community College would get $4 million to improve its vocational education facilities on its main campus.
Early voting is already under way, and the bond questions are listed on the back of the ballot with the proposed constitutional amendments.
“I am hopeful that people deeply consider Bond C during this general election,” Luna President Pete Campos said in a statement.
“It is an important question for our educational and economic survival. The resources would bring our vocational educational programs to a competitive level and would provide jobs. This is crucial to our regional development and unification as we pursue our mission to meet the educational needs of our students.”
Luna would use the $4 million from the bond to pay for the renovation of its building trades, welding, automotive and auto collision departments on the main campus.
Jerry Maestas, chairman of the LCC Board of Trustees, said the bond issue is important for the success of students pursuing certification and degrees in auto collision, mechanics, welding and carpentry.
“These resources will be wisely used to update our original Camp Luna era facilities and give students the competitive edge with the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment,” Maestas said. “Our students deserve the best facilities and equipment to master the start of their careers.”
Highlands’ trolley building, located on 12th Street and San Francisco, was built in 1903 in the Romanesque architectural style. University spokesman Sean Weaver said the 15,975-square-foot building was the trolley barn for the city’s trolley system. Las Vegas and Albuquerque were the only two cities in New Mexico with trolley systems at the time.
“The vacant trolley building is listed on the State and National Registry of Historic places,” Weaver said. “It will not survive without restoration.”
The projected cost of renovating the building is $10.5 million.
Weaver said the $6 million from the bond would be used to pay for architectural plan evaluation and engineering planning to provide a better cost estimate for the project, and it would be used to begin the renovation. He said the university is requesting the difference in funding from the state Legislature.
Once renovations are complete, the university plans to use the building to house its media arts program.
The senior center bond and library bond would also bring money into this area.
Highlands would get $95,178 and Luna would get $15,500 for library materials if the library bond is approved. Carnegie Library would get nearly $42,600 while the Mora County library would get $6,400.
Public school libraries would also benefit. Las Vegas City Schools would get $27,207; West Las Vegas schools would get $29,803; Mora schools would get $12,870, Pecos would get $10,057 and Wagon Mound would get $6,205.
The senior center bond would provide $48,000 for Las Vegas Senior Center vehicles, $15,800 for Pecos Senior Center meals equipment and $10,195 for the Pecos Senior Center renovation.
The state Board of Finance estimates that the state property tax mill levy won’t increase if all three bond issues are approved. If they are rejected, the property tax mill rate would likely decline slightly.