Portales starts 2006 with vote on mil levy

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

A number of elections affecting Portales residents will take place in 2006 beginning with an election to decide whether to keep a mil levy tax used to help the Portales School District officials with improvements to the district.

During 2006 elections for New Mexico governor, Portales mayor and Portales city councilors will also take place.

The Portales School Board members, during the November school board meeting, unanimously approved a resolution to have a Special Public School Capital Improvements tax election on Feb. 7. According to the resolution, the board members approved having an election to continue a property tax to help pay for school district improvements.

“It (money generated from tax) is extremely important to us,” Randy Fowler, Portales School District superintendent, said. “These are funds we use for any kind of maintenance for buildings. We will use the mil levy on all of the schools (in the district).”

If approved, the mil levy would retain a property tax of $2 per each $1,000 of net taxable value of the property for schools. The property tax would be imposed through 2010.

The money generated from the property tax portion of the 2006-2010 years would be used for renovations such as carpet replacements, room painting, new windows to help save on energy costs and leasing vehicles. Fowler said school officials would like to have a cycle in place for carpet repairs for the buildings.

The money generated from the mil levy cannot go towards salary expenses of employees or the purchase of new vehicles for extracurricular school activities.

The voters have approved the mil levy tax each time the question has come up for vote. The mil levy has been in place since 1976, according to school records. County voters approved the mil levy in February of 2002, keeping the $2 portion per each $1,000 of the net taxable value of property. The mil levy was for four years: 2002 through 2005. The mil levy expires at the end of the year.

“If the mil levy is approved there will be no difference in the taxes people pay,” Fowler said, reiterating that it is not an increase in the taxes people already pay. “Ninety percent of our budget goes for salary and benefits. This leaves very little for maintenance.”

If voters discontinue the mil levy, it would mean a reduction of property taxes property owners pay each year for the next five years. For example, the owner of a residential property with a $50,000 net taxable value would pay $33.33 less annually if the mil levy is not approved.

A residential property owner living in town who has a $50,000 net taxable property value would pay $390.16 in property taxes for all of the mil levies already in place. If the voters decline to continue the mil levy that same person would pay a property tax total of $356.81 annually.

The money generated from the mil levy from the 2002 election was used to improve the lighting at the Portales High School Performing Arts Center, ADA compliance throughout the district, replacement of carpets where needed, roof replacement and Portales Junior High building construction.

Janet Collins, Roosevelt County clerk, said early voting begins on Jan. 13 at the county courthouse.

New people who have moved to the community or are not registered voters need to become registered voters by Jan. 10 to vote in the Feb. 7 election.