How bond to affect taxpayers

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By Carol A. Clark

During his year-long campaign for a county council seat, Mike Wismer found that funding for Los Alamos Public Schools was one of the primary issues raised by residents.

“It’s very important to property owners,” said Wismer, who was elected Nov. 4 to one of three vacant seats. “They want to know how much it will cost them and what they can expect in terms of facilities upgrades should the bond pass in January.”

The increase to taxpayers, if voters approve the bond is an average of $1.50 a day, according to the LAPS website, which lists a significant amount of information about the bond issue to help educate voters.

Specifically, residents whose full property value is $100,000 with a tax value of $33,333 can expect to pay an annual increase of $181.97 or $15.16 per month in new taxes. Residents with a $200,000 home and tax value of $66,667 will pay $363.94 a year or $30.33 per month in additional taxes.

A $300,000 home with a $100,000 tax value will incur $545.90 in new taxes annually or $45.49 monthly. A $400,000 home with a $133,333 tax value will realize $727.87 in added taxes annually or $60.66 monthly.

Residents who own a $500,000 home with a $166,667 tax value will see $909.84 in additional annual taxes or $75.82 per month.

The bond issue came about following an extensive study wherein LAPS assembled a committee of experts who developed a 20-year plan to address the growing decline in the schools’ infrastructure with most facilities at least 45 years old, outdated and ill-equipped.

Los Alamos High School is nearly 60 years old. If approved, the $40 million bond money will strictly target aging school buildings.

Superintendent Mary McLeod has made it clear that none of the bond money will be used for district office buildings or the Trinity Redevelopment Project.

The district’s Facilities Renewal Plan addresses the most urgent needs of the schools and allows for support and maintenance of its existing structures awaiting replacement. The plan will be reassessed every four to five years.

Proposed projects for the upcoming bond as well as two additional election cycles: Funding Cycle 1 – includes $40 million to complete Los Alamos High School replacement work in B-D Wings and other site work, begin work on Los Alamos Middle School's multi-use/PE space and classroom upgrades, and accomplish design work for classrooms at Aspen Elementary School.

Funding Cycle 2 - will include $20 million to complete the multi-use PE space and classrooms at LAMS and classroom construction at Aspen.

Funding Cycle 3 - will include $20 million for renovations at Barranca and Piñon elementary schools and on the auditorium.

The Office of the County Clerk will mail out bond election ballots to registered voters throughout Los Alamos County Jan. 6.

Anyone who has not done so, can register through Dec. 30 at the clerk’s office or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

To be included in the count, ballots must be returned by Jan. 27.

For detailed information about the bond, access www.laschools.net.