Portales school board non-committal on proposed $1 million share of stadium financing

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Whether Portales schools decides to support an $8 million Eastern New Mexico University football stadium by paying an eighth of its cost through a bond election is only up for discussion right now, says the district’s Superintendent Johnnie Cain.

After ENMU was able to secure half the funding for the stadium through a successful student election earlier this month in which students pledged to pay $40 a semester, $3.33 per credit hour for part-time students, for the next 30 years, the school’s foundation continues negotiations with Portales schools to raise money to pay for the stadium.

The athletic programs at Portales High School would use the stadium as well.

ENMU Stadium

Future ENMU Stadium

“We are kind of up against the wall,” said Cain Monday night at the board of education meeting.

Cain said he met with ENMU’s President Steven Gamble last week to discuss a bond election, but the figure the district is being asked to pay remains at $1 million.

Cain and the other board members said the board has other issues to address when considering issuing a bond, including technology upgrades for schools and programs.

Cain added a priority listed in the school’s master plan is safety. He predicts upgrades for school security may be as high as $750,000.

“We need to know where we’re going and what we want to spend that money on,” Cain said.

Between now and mid-November, the board will review its options and make a decision on what it wants to ask taxpayers to support.

Additionally, Cain had representatives of RBC Capital Markets speak to the board about financial advising for its bond decision.

Paul Cassidy with RBC said the board could issue a bond for up to $3.6 million without the tax rate changing because it replaces other bonds that have matured.

“That’s always a selling point, when you don’t have to raise taxes,” said board member Mary Lou Rowley.

Cassidy told the board it would have to adopt a resolution before Thanksgiving to meet the deadline to have a bond election in early 2014.

 

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