Saturday, January 15, 2011
CNM Seeks 'Yes' on Bond Election
By Rosalie Rayburn
Journal Staff Writer
CNM's president is hoping a Feb. 1 bond election will bring in money for renovations that include a renewable energy project at its Rio Rancho campus.
Central New Mexico Community College is seeking voter approval for a $70 million bond issue. The bulk of the money would go for improvements at the institution's older buildings in Albuquerque.
About $400,000 would be earmarked to put in a solar, wind or combination solar-and-wind energy source at the Rio Rancho campus, CNM President Kathy Winograd said Friday.
The goal is to reduce energy costs by providing power for exterior lighting at the 62,000-square-foot building that opened in August.
"The intent over time is to be totally self-sustaining (in energy)," she said.
She pointed out that the building already has a geothermal heating and cooling system that relies on water circulating through underground wells instead of using fossil fuels.
Early voting for the bond election began Jan. 7 at Rio Rancho City Hall. Absentee in-person votes can be cast at the Sandoval County Clerk's Office, in the county's administration building near Idalia and N.M. 528.
Winograd said CNM holds bond elections about every five years. A "Yes" vote will not increase property taxes. If voters reject the bonds, property taxes would gradually decrease over time as existing bonds are paid off, Winograd said.
CNM's Rio Rancho campus northwest of City Hall offers nursing, business administration, liberal arts and teacher education programs. As of this week, it had an enrollment of 1,403 students, CNM spokesman Brad Moore said.
Rio Rancho voters in 2007 approved extending CNM's tax district to include the area north of Northern Boulevard. Before the district extension, CNM's tax district included the southern portion of Rio Rancho and all of Albuquerque.
State law prohibits CNM from building a campus outside its district boundary.
The extension meant higher property taxes for northern Rio Rancho residents. CNM estimated it would add $119 per year for each $100,000 of the assessed value of a home.
Many residents were opposed to paying more tax to support CNM's Rio Rancho campus, saying it was not needed.
Gov. Susana Martinez's office this week listed CNM Rio Rancho among five branch campuses statewide targeted for spending cuts.
Moore said CNM is fighting the cuts but the proposal could mean the campus would lose up to $393,000 designated for overhead costs, such as utilities and maintenance expenses.