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Bond issue called critical to CNM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Central New Mexico Community College administrators are hoping voters will approve an $84 million bond issue to improve the college’s ailing infrastructures across its five campuses.

“This bond is critical to CNM,” said Kathy Ulibarri, the college’s vice president for finance and operations. “Our buildings are aging. We think it’s incredibly important to maintain these buildings and keep them current.”

Early voting on the bond began Wednesday and will remain open through Jan. 30. Election Day is Feb. 2. The bond would raise the mill levy from 0.55 mill to 1 mill.

Currently, homeowners in CNM’s district pay $35.57 in annual taxes on a property worth $200,000. The increase from the bond issue would raise the rate for a $200,000 home to $64.67, about a $29 increase.

College officials say they haven’t asked for a tax increase since introducing the mill levy in 1996, when the college was still known as the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute. And they also say the current infrastructure was built for far fewer students.

When administrators introduced the mill levy in 1996, about 15,000 students attended the community college. As of the 2015 spring semester, a little more than 25,000 students attend.

The bond’s main project is a renovation of the main campus’ Max Salazar Hall, the largest and most heavily trafficked building at the college. The plan calls for updated technology, mainly improving Internet access, for classrooms and a more efficient climate control system.

Bond money also would be spent on creating an emergency notification system across the campuses. Other projects include a renovation of the welding program facility on the main campus to make room for more students interested in the courses.

Officials say that if the bond fails, they’ll have to put off renovations.

Fewer students are attending CNM compared with years past, a trait it shares with colleges nationwide. In the fall 2010 and 2011 semesters, about 29,000 students attended the college. Now, it’s down to 25,000. The community college receives its funding from the state, the mill levy tax and, to a lesser extent, tuition. For New Mexico residents, tuition costs $612 a semester for full-time students.