School mil levy issue passes easily

By William Thompson

It was a low turnout, but Portales voters approved a Portales school district mil levy Tuesday by a vote of 364-108. Only 472 voters out of 10,158 eligible voters participated, according to Roosevelt County Clerk Janet Collins.

“I’m so disappoined that so few people turned out to vote,” Collins said. “I sent out notices to the newspaper and the radio stations. Maybe people didn’t feel it was an important issue, but it should be important to them because it’s their schools. I am pleased that it passed.”

The mil levy represents a property tax of $2 for each $1,000 of net taxable value on property within the school district, according to ballot information. Superintendent of schools Randy Fowler said Portales schools can expect a windfall of about $320,000 from the mil levy. He said the state will match that funding up to about $315,000, bringing the total amount of funding to about $635,000 for various building improvements throughout the district.

“We’ll be using the funding to help with painting school buildings and purchasing desks and equipment like copy machines and computers,” Fowler said. “Here is one example of how the funding will be used: Some of it will be used to install new lighting in the high school’s performing arts center.”

Fowler said past mil levy funding has allowed the district to purchase heating and air conditioning units for the district’s buildings. DeAnna Davis, a kindergarten and preschool teacher at Brown Early Childhood Center, said she is anticipating that some of the funding will go for carpeting and repairs to the center’s roof this year.

“We’re in an older building and the work defintely needs to be done to it,” she said. “The funding is very much needed to keep all the operations of the school going.”
Pearl Martinez was one of the few who cast her vote against the mil levy.

“I think that as far as the mil levy is concerned, we pay enough taxes already,” she said.

Collins emphasized that passage of the mil levy does not mean taxes are going up because the mil levy has already been in effect. Tuesday’s vote was simply to decide whether the mil levy should remain in effect.

Under the mil levy, a property owner with $50,000 of taxable property pays an additional $33.31 in annual property taxes. The mil levy will remain in effect through 2010.