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Four bond questions to be voted on

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Should voters give the go-ahead on Election Day, $7 million in property tax revenue would flow into the University of New Mexico to start renewing and replacing what President Garnett Stokes calls the “atrocious” facilities currently used by the university’s ROTC programs.

Another $20.3 million would allow UNM to continue chemistry building upgrades and to construct a new “College Pathways to Careers Center” at its Taos branch.

UNM and UNM-Taos are among 26 college, university and specialty school campuses that stand to benefit from a $128 million general obligation Bond D question on this year’s ballot. School leaders say passage of Bond D would positively impact New Mexico now by generating construction and related jobs, but also in the long term by helping schools produce a better workforce.

“For all of us who are concerned about the education in New Mexico, concerned about the economy in New Mexico, what we really want is the kind of higher education system and the kind of higher education capital that allows us to be competitive to provide a better life for New Mexicans,” Central New Mexico Community College President Kathie Winograd said in championing the bond in a recent meeting with Journal editors. “How do we create an opportunity that we keep our best and brightest – both faculty and students – in the state, and how do we make this a competitive place?”

Bond D is one of four general obligation bonds on this year’s ballot. The bonds would not increase property taxes, instead maintaining the existing mill levy.

At UNM, the bond revenue would cover classroom, class lab and office space updates in the 1951 chemistry building – a modernization effort Stokes called “absolutely crucial” for teaching as well as student and faculty recruitment and retention.

The state’s largest university could also begin the first phase of an ROTC Complex for the campus’ three programs – Navy, Army and Air Force – which currently utilize separate, older facilities UNM says cannot support modern technology and lack proper facilities for women.

“It is actually atrocious how we have housed our ROTC people,” Stokes said.

CNM, the state’s largest community college, would get $7.5 million for various infrastructure needs, such as upgraded HVAC systems, roofing, and parking lot lighting.

Bond D would fund $25 million in renovations and updates within New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences but also smaller-scale projects like $800,000 in paving and signage around Mesalands Community College.

The other bonds on the ballot:

• Bond A for up to $10.8 million in facility improvements, construction and equipment for more than 60 senior centers in the state. The highest-dollar projects include the Gadii’ahi Chapter Senior Center in San Juan County, the Abedon Lopez Senior Center in Santa Cruz, and the Twin Lakes Senior Center in McKinley County.

• Bond B for up to $12.9 million for acquisitions at libraries around the state, including funds for the purchase and installation of broadband equipment and infrastructure.

• Bond C for up to $6.1 million to the New Mexico Public Education Department to purchase and upgrade school buses, including those owned by school districts and buses provided by a service contractor “if the school district determines that air conditioning as standard equipment is necessary,” according to state legislation. The bill does not specify which districts would benefit, and a PED spokeswoman did not return Journal messages seeking more information about the plans.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

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