New Mexico local districts to see election cost jump

HOBBS, N.M. — Lea County school districts, hospital districts and the New Mexico Junior College all will likely see jumps in election costs next year because of the state’s new local election law.

Hobbs Municipal Schools’ next election will cost more than twice as much as previously budgeted, the Hobbs News-Sun reported.

State Sen. Daniel A. Ivey-Soto says the jump comes because each local government taxing entity will be assessed $250 for every million dollars of general fund expenditures annually to pay for the regular local election. Ivey-Soto, an Albuquerque Democrat, sponsored the measure that sparked the changes.

Elections for local government taxing entities — school districts, community colleges, water conservation districts, sanitation districts and hospital districts — will be held in November of odd-numbered years.

Hobbs School District Superintendent TJ Parks said the rising costs were a surprise.

“I can’t remember exactly, but I want to say we have budgeted in the past about $12,000, but that was in election years,” Parks said. “So now we’re going to be assessed twice . that’s $17,500 (per year), that’s $35,000 (per election). That’s about $20,000 swing in the negative for us.”

Ivey-Soto frequently urged officials of various entities to help him push for dedicated funding to eliminate that assessment. His presentation estimated the fee for each of Lea County’s incorporated municipalities, based on general fund expenditures, if they opted in to local elections held in November of odd-numbered years.

Questioned about entities such as hospital districts with limited tax revenue paying the fee on general fund expenditures that come mostly from services, not taxes, Ivey-Soto acknowledged further discussion would be advisable.

Ivey-Soto explained all of New Mexico’s cities, unless they accept an option to join the other local entities in November of odd-numbered years, will hold their elections in March of even-numbered years.

Only four cities are affected by that provision — Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Gallup and Silver City. The first three have had their elections in different months and the last had annual elections in March, now only once every two years.

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Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com

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