By Tony Parra
The General Obligation Bond Proposition B steering committee met on Wednesday to discuss acquiring support for a bond that would provide more than $9.5 million dollars for higher education in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
Eastern New Mexico University would receive $8.913 million for buildings and infrastructure on campus. The total bond is valued at $96 million for higher education institutes across the state.
“We don’t get very many opportunities like these,” Eastern New Mexico University president Steven Gamble said. “We would like to capitalize on this.”
ENMU-Roswell would gain $3.125 million for a health professions building and infrastructure and the ENMU-Ruidoso Instructional Center is set to gain $850,000 for building expansion and infrastructure if the bond passes.
Voters will get a chance on Nov. 2 in the general election to decide if they want a property tax increase to help benefit institutions across the state.
“We think it’s going to be tougher than in the past to pass,” Gamble said. “In the past we’ve been tied through K-12. This time money is going into a bond for only higher education. We could lose some votes.”
The additional property tax would be approximately $1 per year for 10 years for each $10,000 a house is valued at. For example, if the property owner has a house with an asset value of $100,000 the additional property tax would be about $10.00 a year.
City manager Debi Lee said according to the 2000 census the median value of a house was $52,300. She said information from the recent housing fair, which had approximately 50 people, showed the property value was between $65,000 to $90,000 of the participants.
Lee said one of the concerns was ENMU student turnout for the election. Roosevelt County clerk Joyce Fraze said early and absentee voting begins on Oct. 5.
“It’s not that they don’t want to vote, but they haven’t thought about where to go to register,” Lee said.
Portales schools superintendent Jim Holloway said it’s vital it be made clear what it will cost to the voters when university officials publicize the bond.
“The bottom line, is what it’s going to cost me,” Diane Parker, city councilor, said. “The simpler, the better.”
The greatest financial impact for ENMU in Portales would be to the science department. If the bond passes, it will provide $7 million for a new science building. Gamble said a new science building would be built near the old science building. He said the old science building would be converted for other use.
“The facility is old, very old,” Gamble said. “It’s not ADA accessible, something we need to move away from.”
It would also provide an additional $766,000 for KENW-TV, $462,500 for information technology, approximately $145,000 for the Golden Library and approximately $40,000 for American Disabilities Act for things such as smoothing sidewalks and ramps for wheel-chairs.
It will also give a $500,000 boost for infrastructure, such as lighting, sidewalk repairs and roofing.
The last general obligation bond in 2002 was passed, and ENMU was able to obtain $4 million for the new communications center. Construction work on the new communications center, next to the current KENW broadcaster center, has already begun.