Voters OK G.O. bonds

By Ryan Lengerich

A school bond that will designate $8 million to Eastern New Mexico University was approved by New Mexico voters on Tuesday.

Bond B will allocate $94.5 million to colleges statewide and raise property taxes by an average of $15.26 per year on a $150,000 home, according to the state Board of Finance.

Voters approved the measure by 59-41 percent.

Eastern New Mexico University, Clovis Community College and Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari will benefit from the bond. ENMU is slated to receive $8 million, with about $7 million going to a new science center.

ENMU President Steven Gamble said the school’s current science facility was erected in 1949.

“We in higher education are grateful for the confidence the voters place in us,” Gamble said Tuesday. “We will be good stewards of the money entrusted to us and we will make higher education stronger in New Mexico with this money.”

CCC is slated to receive $650,000 for classroom expansion; $500,000 of that money would be for a new allied health building in the lot adjacent to the new library.

Mesalands Community College President Phillip O. Barry said voters approved funding for school improvement in 2002, but the full amount needed was not allocated by the legislators and this bond will provide $600,000 to complete a $1.4 million project.

But Quay County on Tuesday did not support the bond by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin. Barry said he was surprised.

“Voters spoke this time but I am glad it passed statewide,” Barry said.

New Mexico voters also approved three constitutional amendments and three other bond issues for capital projects ranging from senior citizen centers to classrooms for full-day kindergarten programs.

Bond A, which was approved by 62 percent of voters, will provide nearly $6.1 million for improvements and equipment for dozens of senior citizen centers across the state. The projects will include a center in Pecos and purchasing meals equipment for a center in Lovington.

Bond C, which had the support of 58 percent of voters, will provide $16.3 million for books, computers, equipment and other materials for libraries. The money will be distributed to community and tribal libraries as well as public school libraries, university and college libraries and state libraries.

The last bond, approved with 63 percent of voters, will help 19 school districts around the state build classrooms for their full-day kindergarten programs.

Voters also approved amendments to allow cities to hold runoffs in municipal elections and to change the name of the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped to the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Another amendment will expand a partial property tax exemption to any honorably discharged veterans regardless of when they were in the military. Currently, honorably discharged veterans who served on active duty during “armed conflict” are eligible for the exemption.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.