Voting on tax measures has become something of a regular ritual in Santa Fe. It’s happening again, this time in a Feb. 6 election on bond issues to support Santa Fe Public Schools and the Santa Fe Community College.
The City Different electorate has long been reliably tax-friendly. Until last year, approvals for taxes were almost automatic for whatever jurisdiction – usually Santa Fe County, the school district or the community college – that put one on the ballot. (City voters did reject a proposed tax on high-end home sales in 2009).
In 2017, things got hairy for taxes in the City Different. An anonymous group sent out mailers trying to derail a Santa Fe Public Schools bond issue proposal that included a property tax increase. Despite the dark-money attack, voters still overwhelmingly approved the measure.
Then came Santa Fe city government’s May special election on a proposed tax on sugary drinks to support early childhood education programs. With big bucks spent on both sides, from the soda industry against and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for, the result was a big rejection of the tax.
Maybe acclimated to voting no, voters then rejected proposed a county gross receipts tax in September.
All of that happened after property taxes in Santa Fe and within the Santa Fe Public Schools district had gone up 20 percent between 2012 and 2016, including hikes added on that didn’t require going to elections.
In the Feb. 6 election (early voting has already started), the community college has two ballot proposals that would provide $17 million for a variety of school improvements, including a new facility for its growing auto-tech program (what we’d call car mechanics in olden times).
The school district’s general obligation bond would provide about $78 million over six years. It would go for items such as internet access, telecommunications, district email, financial and human resources systems, state reporting systems, staff computers and copy machines.
This time, no property tax increase is proposed by either SFCC or the school district. Tax rates would go down if any of the proposals were rejected.
The two jurisdictions both make good arguments for the bonds – they will support the kinds of capital projects that aren’t covered by state funding.
This time, go to the polls and support the bond issues. The improvements they would finance are worthy uses of tax dollars and serve as pretty basic support for local education. The new or improved facilities at the community college should advance economic development as well as provide better career choices for area students.
The community college’s leaders balanced its two proposals to avoid a tax increase. That’s good.
These are the kinds of proposals Santa Feans can get back into the habit of supporting.