Early voting under way in mil levy, polls open Feb. 7

By Tony Parra

Some Roosevelt County residents have already made their decision on whether they are in favor of, or opposed to keeping a property tax in place to help the Portales School District.

Janet Collins, Roosevelt County Clerk, said as of Friday afternoon 27 people have returned ballots in early voting in the Portales school mil levy election. Collins says there are approximately 10,000 registered voters. Early voting began on Jan. 13 and continues through 5 p.m. Friday.

County residents also have the option of actually going to the polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 7. Collins said voters need to look on their voter identification card to make sure they go to the correct polling places.

During their November meeting the Portales School Board unanimously approved a resolution to have a special public school capital improvements tax election this spring. The measure seeks to continue a property tax that helps pay for school district improvements.

Randy Fowler, Portales School District superintendent, said the money is extremely important to the school district.

“I think we should go above and beyond the state contributions,” David Bonner, State Farm insurance agent in Portales, said. “We need to do our part as a community to help where we can.”

Bonner said he does not like the idea that if the mil levy is not approved, school officials will have to look elsewhere for financial help.

“If we don’t give them the money, they’re going to have to find it elsewhere,” Bonner said. “They may have to cut programs or find money elsewhere in the budget that may take away from what goes toward true education.”

Bonner said he has three children in the Portales School District and as a taxpayer, he doesn’t mind paying the tax to support the public schools. He said the county has been supportive when it comes to education.

“What I have found is that people in the county have been supportive of the education process,” Bonner said. “We have issues like any other schools but we have great teachers and great support from our community.”

If approved, the mil levy would retain a property tax of $2 for each $1,000 of net taxable value on property within the school district. The property tax would be imposed through 2010.

The money generated from the mil levy portion of property taxes during the 2006-2010 years could only be used by the schools for renovations such as carpet replacements, room painting, new windows to help save on energy costs and leasing vehicles.

If voters discontinue the mil levy, it would mean a reduction of property taxes property owners pay. For example, the owner of a residential property with a $50,000 net taxable value would pay $33.33 less annually if the mil levy is not approved.

A residential property owner living in the district who has a $50,000 net taxable property value would pay $390.16 in property taxes for all of the mil levies already in place. If the voters decline to continue the mil levy that same person would pay a property tax total of $356.81 annually.

David Stone, owner of the Portales National Bank, said financial support is necessary for the future of Portales. Stone said he probably pays as much on property tax as anyone else in the county but feels it’s well-worth it when it comes to the future of Portales.

The money generated from the mil levy cannot go towards salary expenses of employees or the purchase of new vehicles for extracurricular school activities.

The voters have approved the mil levy tax each time the question has come up for vote. The mil levy has been in place since 1976, according to school records.