Home News Local News McIlroy talks special school election with Republican women

McIlroy talks special school election with Republican women

Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy speaks to a crowd at the January meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women, Wednesday at the Elks Lodge, about the GO bonds and mill levy renewal on the ballot. All ballots must be returned by Feb. 5. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy, superintendent of the Roswell Independent School District (RISD), spoke Wednesday at a meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women about the General Obligation (GO) Bond and SB-9 mill levy questions that will go before voters in the all-mail ballot special school election.

McIlroy said she is prohibited from telling Chaves County residents how to vote, but is just educating them about the questions on the ballot.

“I can’t tell you how to vote, I just want you to vote,” she told the audience.

Ballots for the election went out this month and must be returned by mail by Feb. 5.

Chaves County voters will decide in the election whether to authorize up to $14 million in general bonds for the next four years for the improvement of school facilities and grounds, school construction, renovation and upgrades at RISD schools, McIlroy said.

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McIlroy added that in the past, bonds have been used for renovations to schools as well as the construction of new facilities.

Chad Cole, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, also at the meeting, said that this year because the taxable valuation of the county has gone down due to oil and gas revenue, RISD is asking voters for $2 million less in bonding authority than they had previously.

A second question, if approved, will allow for the continuation of an existing mill levy to cover expenses related to cleaning supplies, technology upgrades and the maintenance of school buildings and grounds, McIlroy said.

The resolution and proclamation calling for the special election, approved by the RISD School Board in October, says the mill levy imposes a property tax of $2 per $1,000 of net taxable value of a property that will go towards RISD from 2019 through 2024.

The money is needed to maintain RISD’s buildings, many of which are quite old, McIlroy said.

“We have some buildings that are over 100 years old,” she said.

As an example of the antiquated nature of some of the buildings, McIlroy said that this winter, two of the RISD boiler systems went down.

Neither question would increase the property taxes of voters, just allow for another cycle of bonding and extend the life of an existing mill levy.

“This is not a new tax, it is just time to renew our GO bonds and our mill levy,” she said.

Without the levy, McIlroy said RISD would need to use money the district receives from the state for maintenance. She later said money from the levy cannot be used for salary increases.

Beyond individual schools and the RISD budget, the bonding has allowed the wider community to benefit. McIlroy said local contractors are used for the RISD construction projects.

“As a result of those construction projects, we generated over $139 million in gross receipt taxes in our community,” McIlroy said.

Bonding also allows area residents to keep more of their tax money.

People in southeastern New Mexico often complain that they send their tax dollars to Santa Fe but don’t see any benefits from it locally.

“I can tell you that by supporting the GO bond you will get money back,” she said.

The Public School Capital Outlay Committee and Public School Facility Authority review projects submitted by school districts across the state, who then decide whether to enter partnerships with districts when it comes to paying for school construction and upgrades, McIlroy said.

She added that recently the state has paid for 71 percent of all construction costs associated with projects.

“So that means for every dollar that you as taxpayers give to us — 29 cents of that is used in the construction, they pay 71 cents,” she said.

Having the bonding authority has allowed RISD to do more at a lower cost.

If not approved, McIlroy said the matching funds they are able to get through bonding could be less and go to other districts.

“So if you don’t want to leave those monies on the table, we need to constantly remember that GO bonding is an important thing and we get those dollars back,” she said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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