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CNM needs bond money to keep up

For 50 years, Central New Mexico Community College has provided our community with outstanding higher education and job-training programs at an affordable cost, which has benefited countless thousands of students and their families. Thoughtful planning through the years and unwavering support from our community has allowed CNM to develop into a highly valued public resource.

In regards to the planning of CNM’s local bond election, however, we made a mistake when we selected early voting locations. We failed to ensure that there were early voting locations in northwest Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

As president of CNM, I apologize, take full responsibility and will ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Voter expectations for early voting options have changed dramatically in recent years, and CNM did not adjust appropriately when planning for this election. However, CNM and its partners responded quickly to the problem.

On Thursday, the CNM Governing Board approved two new early voting locations at the Don Newton Community Center in Taylor Ranch and the AMREP Southwest Building in Rio Rancho. Those locations were expected to be operating as of Saturday.

There will also be 32 voting locations on Election Day, Feb. 2, in locations spread across the CNM District. That includes a new polling location at Cabezon Community Center in Rio Rancho.

I hope voters will cast their ballots based on whether they believe the CNM local bond is good for the community, our local economy and the college.

Voters are being asked to approve $84 million in bonds for CNM that would be used to improve student learning facilities, projects that support local economic development and projects that will improve safety and security.

If the bond passes, it would result in a property tax increase for property owners in the CNM District through CNM’s capital projects mill levy. The property tax increase would be $29.10 per year on a house with a market value of $200,000, which is the approximate average home value in the region.

The projects will not only improve aging facilities and better prepare our students to compete for the jobs of tomorrow, but they will also provide a much-needed boost to the economy and create work for those in the construction, architectural and design fields.

Some of the professionals who typically work on CNM bond projects are former CNM students who graduated in fields like plumbing, carpentry, electrical and construction management. The projects would support the local economy while improving the quality of education for our community members.

This is the first time since CNM’s capital mill levy was introduced in 1996 that the college is seeking an increase to the tax rate. In 1996, there were 14,521 students enrolled at CNM. During the 2015 fall term, there were 25,760 students enrolled. There were 89 degree and certificate programs offered in 1996. Today, there are 182.

As CNM has grown in so many ways over the past two decades to meet community needs, our funding has lagged behind.

For 50 years, CNM has been proud to serve as a critical educational resource for people in our community who need a high-quality, affordable education that leads to meaningful careers and financial security for their families.

CNM is doing its best to ensure we continue that tradition for another 50 years, but it is more challenging in today’s economy. Since the recession hit in 2008, state funding for higher education has significantly decreased and CNM has faced very challenging budget conditions year after year. Our budget outlook, combined with the need to improve our facilities to meet the expectations of our students, community members and 21st-century economy, has compelled us to ask for our community’s support in this election.

At CNM, we have greatly appreciated our community’s tremendous support through the years. I hope that you’ll continue to support our community’s college during this important election.

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