[Note: This post has been updated to correct the description of one of the vehicles requested by the Chaves County JOY Centers and to clarify the projected cost to property taxpayers.]
Chaves County schools and libraries could receive about $5.78 million if New Mexico voters approve three general obligation bond issues on the ballot for the general election.
Early voting and in-person absentee voting starts Oct. 6. Election Day is Nov. 3.
Statewide issues also include two proposed constitutional amendments, which will be covered in a future article.
Bond A would provide $33.29 million in funding for senior facilities throughout the state. Bond B would provide $9.5 million for academic, public, tribal or school libraries, while Bond C is seeking $155.97 million for higher education building projects and equipment or technology upgrades.
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State officials outline taxpayer costs
The three bond issues total $199.2 million, and they would be repaid by state property taxes. According to information from the New Mexico Finance and Administration Department, the state mill levy would remain at 1.36 mills even if all three bonds pass, which is the same rate as in 2018 and 2019.
Over a 10-year period, taxpayers could expect to pay $10.99 a year for each $100,000 of property or asset value, according to the New Mexico Board of Finance. Bond A would account for $1.83. Bond B would represent 54 cents, and Bond C would be for $8.62.
If approved by voters in November, the funding would be available by spring 2021.
JOY Centers seek funding
Three locations of the JOY Centers, which typically provide activities, day care, house cleaning, meals and transportation to senior residents, are requesting $701,395, said Executive Director Monica Duran.
These requests are part of Bond A to fund senior facilities.
Three of the appropriations would be to renovate parking lots at the Lake Arthur ($93,833), Midway ($84,716) and Roswell JOY centers ($107,473).
Duran said that the Lake Arthur and Midway centers have gravel only for parking lots and placing asphalt on them will make them safer, less of a fall hazard. The Roswell center is already paved, but needs resurfacing.
Two centers are also seeking money for nine new vehicles, Duran said, with the request being $51,728 for Midway and $312,645 for Roswell.
“We are trying to phase out the older vehicles,” she said. “We have some vehicles that are, I believe, 2002s. They have probably already reached 10 years and over 100,000 miles.”
She said one request is for a meal delivery truck and the other vehicles are for client transportation. The organization provides more than 23,000 transports a year, she said.
“Without the new vehicles, we would either have to deny requests or would have some pretty stiff repairs,” Duran said.
The other request is $51,000 for new kitchen equipment at the Roswell location, which Duran said is essential to providing more than 125,000 meals a year to its clients.
“Our ovens, our stove and our tilt skillet are all 20-plus years, probably older than that,” Duran said. “We have had to make repairs on our oven quite a few times. … It would be a huge deal not to be able to provide that many meals to the citizens of Chaves County.”
School and public library requests
Of the $9.5 million statewide for libraries, $3.5 million would go to libraries served by the state’s Cultural Affairs Department, with $3 million for non-tribal libraries and $500,000 for tribal libraries. Another $3 million each would go to college and university libraries and to public K-12 school libraries.
Libraries in Chaves County have been allotted about $228,351.
The Roswell Public Library would receive somewhere around $87,059, an amount determined by the New Mexico State Library, said Director Enid Costley.
She said the funding in previous years was used to replace 10-year-old computers, buy a Spanish-language computer educational program for the children’s department and create a drive-up service window. It also could be used for upgrades to the computer catalog.
“For Roswell, this is the money that allows us to improve library services, to get some things that we wouldn’t be able to get approved by the City Council, some of those big ticket items. Those are the critical things that we need to keep the library open and to improve the services. That is what libraries want to do, to provide knock-your-socks-off services for our community, to get them excited about reading, get them involved and active in their community, to have a meeting place where they can safely meet, and also get their informational and recreational reading materials, books, DVDs.”
The learning center and library at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell would receive $23,973, while the Toles Learning Center at the New Mexico Military Institute would receive $7,776.
Four K-12 school libraries also would get funding.
That would be about $75,148 for the Roswell Independent School District, $10,979 for Dexter Consolidated Schools District, $9,802 for Hagerman Municipal Schools and $10,500 for Lake Arthur Municipal Schools.
Campus improvements for higher ed
The $155.97 million statewide for building projects and equipment and technology upgrades at state-supported higher education institutions would go to about 33 institutions, create 1,500 construction-related jobs and benefit about 122,000 students in New Mexico, according to a campaign website established for Bond C.
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and the New Mexico Military Institute would receive $4.85 million for their projects.
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell would receive somewhere in the range of $1.8 million to $1.85 million to replace deteriorating exterior lighting fixtures and install up to 250 new campus surveillance cameras, as well as related computer servers, monitors and hardware.
Shawn Powell, ENMU-R president, said the project had previously been approved by voters in 2014, but the need to install a fire system in a building used by Early College High School students took precedence.
“These exterior lights that we have are antiquated,” Powell said. “Last year, when the high winds came, a few of the light poles blew over and we couldn’t even get parts for them.”
The project also would allow more efficient LED lighting to be used, while the cameras and monitoring system is intended to improve campus safety.
New Mexico Military Institute is slated to receive $3 million. Its funding would supplement other funding and could be used for ongoing upgrades of 45 barrack bathrooms, called sink rooms.
Jeremy Leaton, a NMMI marketing and communications representative, said that project is a top priority, with the current, second phase of upgrades expected to cost about $8 million.
The money also might be used for repairing leaking roofs on three buildings that are used for instructional purposes.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.
To keep up with coverage of this and other 2020 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.