College board casts critical vote

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Critical vote steers administration toward early 2010 bond election

By Carol A. Clark

With their backs against the wall, the UNM-LA Advisory Board has directed administration to proceed with a bond election in early 2010.

“We need to let the public know that this is necessary because adverse forces beyond your control have driven UNM-LA to a really difficult, unfortunate financial situation,” Board Member Nelson Hoffman said to college officials gathered in the lecture hall Tuesday evening.

External circumstances including increasing state mandates without reimbursements and the current economic crisis affecting everyone are major reasons the college is being forced to reduce its core faculty and cancel classes.

“It’s important to let the community know we aren’t just asking for the sake of asking,” Board Chair Marie Chiravalle said. “We’re asking because this is what we’re dealing with.”

UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page briefed the board on the critical financial position the college is in, using a 30-slide PowerPoint presentation.

He explained that 27 years ago Los Alamos voted to support the college with the minimum 1 mil required by the state. UNM-LA has not requested an operational increase since that time.

A mil levy is the number of dollars a taxpayer must pay for every $1,000 of assessed property value. The board approved a 2 mil levy for its upcoming election, which requires approval by the UNM Board of Regents.

Each mil equals $767,000. Page will present the proposed mil levy to the regents in November. If approved, the election will be held a minimum of 60 days later.

The college did request and voters approved a capital bond in 1998. That debt has been retired, Page said.

The board offered a number of suggestions to make the reasons behind the need for the bond election clearer for the public.

“I don’t think the college can assume all the cars driving by the campus have any idea what’s going on here,” board member Ron Dolin said.

Dolin suggested college staff put together a presentation that paints a picture for the public.

The UNM-LA Advisory Board meets again Nov. 9.

Board members Michael Wismer and Micheline Devaurs did not attend the meeting.