College mil levy bid loses big

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Voters reject college mil levy, but pass school referendum

By Carol A. Clark

Without foreseeing the nation’s economic downturn and the 36 percent tax hike local property owners would be hit with in November, the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos agreed to wait a year and let Los Alamos Public Schools hold its bond election last year.

“It’s true, no one had a crystal ball then. But we know in due time, in a year or two, the economy will come around and we’ll come back to the voters,” UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page said this morning.

The timing for this election couldn’t have been much worse for the college as evidenced by the 3,591 to 2,576 rejection of the 2 mil levy by voters. Because UNM-LA does not receive funding from UNM, LAPS or Los Alamos National Laboratory for operational support, it was really counting on the mil levy passing.

“We’ll have to look at the services we have been providing and at the cuts to higher education coming out of the current

legislative session but we will continue to provide those services required of branch colleges,” Page said. “I’m leaving it on an optimistic note for the future.”

While wishing the outcome had been different, Page said he wants the community to know that he appreciates having had the opportunity leading up to the election to educate voters about the college, its funding sources and the relationship it has to the main campus in Albuquerque. He also expressed gratitude to all who voted to support the college.

To share expenses during the recent election, the college held a joint mail-out ballot election with the school district.

Just as it was successful asking voters to approve a bond a year ago, the school district received voter approval for its referendum by a 3,166 to 2,935 margin. The referendum seemed to go down a little easier with voters because it was a vote to continue a tax that property owners have been paying for the last five years.

LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt issued the following statement shortly after the votes were counted Tuesday evening.

“We’d like to extend an enormous thank you to the Los Alamos community for your support. To all those who voted yes on the referendum, we will do all that we can to ensure that your confidence in our district was well placed. We are proud to be part of a community that places such high importance on education and all aspects of student success.”

The referendum will provide funding for upgrading technology and other student-related enhancements.

While 100 percent of the 6,210 ballots cast have been counted, these are unofficial results from the Los Alamos County Clerk’s Office until certified by the Canvass Board Thursday.