A colleague of mine at UNM recently told me that the upcoming election was “the most uninteresting” he could remember in all his years of observing New Mexico politics. It may be, if the polls are to be believed. But the University of New Mexico and its campus in Los Alamos will have a great deal at stake when voters cast their ballots between now and Nov. 4.
“Bond Question C,” of the state “2014 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act,” asks voters to accept or reject $141 million worth of funding for capital improvements to colleges and universities across the state. UNM-LA’s share of these funds would be $500,000, which we would match with $250,000 of our own for a $750,000 renovation and upgrade of our Emergency Medical Sciences lab and training area.
No one in Los Alamos needs to be reminded of the importance of emergency services. UNM-Los Alamos stepped forward to fill those needs in 2012, with the implementation of its Emergency Medical Services degree program. Demand for the courses is strong, and we anticipate more growth as we move to further strengthen this key strategic component of our curriculum.
We firmly believe that UNM-LA’s EMS program is one of the best in the region, due in no small part to the battle-tested experience of its faculty and staff. But to remain the best it has to have safe, reliable, adequate space for both the instruction and the necessary equipment. We need to remediate moisture issues, improve access, upgrade the floor, lighting, IT and electrical systems, and provide proper storage and external staging areas. This bond would make that possible.
New Mexico General Obligation (GO) Bonds are the primary source of funding for building renovation and construction in New Mexico’s universities. They appear as a line item in your property tax statement – currently 1.36 mils in Los Alamos County’s total property tax levy of 22.58. About 20 percent of the state’s bonding capacity is up for renewal in any given election, which makes the total sum under consideration today just over 1 percent of your tax bill.
So to recap – if Bond C passes it will provide $500,000 worth of funding for a program critical to UNM-LA and Los Alamos County, without changing the county’s tax rate. If, however, the bond were to fail statewide, it would lower the tax bill on a $300,000 home in Los Alamos or White Rock by about $25, according to the New Mexico Board of Finance.
Please keep these figures in mind when you cast your vote Nov. 4 or in early voting. And don’t listen to the cynics. No election in a democracy is ever “uninteresting!” – not if you do your part.