Voters in the Central New Mexico Community College district are being asked to approve an $84 million local general obligation bond issue to pay for improvements.
The tax revenues would pay for renovating the welding building and the main campus’ largest building, Max Salazar Hall, and for updating technology to improve Internet access to classrooms, among other projects.
It will mean a tax increase.
Since 1996, CNM has had a capital mill levy that provides funds for infrastructure and improvements. Enrollment has grown during that period from 15,000 students to more than 25,000 now. This is the first time the college has asked for that levy to be increased. If approved on Feb. 2 election day, the owner of a property worth $200,000 would pay about $29 a year more, for example.
Early voting is through Jan. 30. However, the early voting process has been clouded by the selection of five sites that seem designed to discourage voter participation. CNM President Kathie Winograd says it was an oversight on CNM’s part that the city’s northwest quadrant was overlooked and that it won’t happen again.
While taxes would increase if the issue is approved, the money would improve facilities for what has become a career lifeline for many workers and the first step on the post-secondary education ladder for others. Institutions like CNM give students a leg up with significantly lower tuition and fees than four-year colleges and universities. In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama noted the critical role of community and junior colleges.
CNM has done a good job of delivering quality education at a reasonable price. It also has been at the forefront of innovative efforts like its STEMulous Center, part of an emerging research and innovation district Downtown.
It is important for CNM’s infrastructure to be maintained and improved going forward. Voters should reward the institution’s good stewardship of their money by approving this increase.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.