What else is on the ballot?
Voters on Nov. 4 will decide whether Bernalillo County will upgrade its library infrastructure, construct and repair city facilities, and improve parks and community centers. There’s even an otter exhibit at the ABQ BioPark that could be built if voters approve.
Q: So what am I voting on?
COUNTY BOND ISSUE 1: $1,800,000 to keep the Albuquerque/ Bernalillo County Library system updated.
COUNTY BOND ISSUE 2: $5,741,000 to design, construct, and repair public safety facilities.
COUNTY BOND ISSUE 3: $6,460,000 for park and community center improvements, a new otter exhibit at the ABQ BioPark, a new aquatics facility, and additional Little League fields.
COUNTY BOND ISSUE 4: $9,070,000 to design, construct, and repair roads and related non-motor vehicle pathways.
COUNTY BOND ISSUE 5: $4,500,000 for flood damage reduction, storm drainage projects, sewer infrastructure, and fiber optics installation.
Julia Herrera, a student at the University of New Mexico, says that it is important to know where the money is going.
“I wouldn’t think (the bonds) are so important unless they already have a plan for the money being used, because it would be a big waste of money that they could be giving to shelters or schools,” Herrera said.
However, money that comes from general obligation. bonds has to be spent specifically on infrastructure. General obligation bonds can only be used for capital projects, meaning that the money is used to design, create, and renovate buildings in the county. Money that isn’t used for a specific project is taken away and allocated elsewhere.
These bonds allow the county to borrow money at the lowest borrowing cost to finance needed capital improvement, according to the Bernalillo County website. The bonds are paid back by the county government through property taxes collected from its citizens. Passing the bonds doesn’t raise taxes.
In order to prevent an increase in property taxes, the county commissioners have requested less money than what is needed to complete the projects.
Bernalillo County Commission Chairwoman Debbie O’Malley said there are other ways to receive the money needed to complete the projects, such as receiving money from the state Legislature or county commission.
“A lot of projects happen in phases so we have to consider that when looking for funding. We work together to get things done.”[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][text_output]
Many senior citizens, students and families are hoping that the general obligation bonds A, B, and C, on ballot this Nov. 4 will pass. Supporters say these three bonds are essential, because they will fund improvements to senior citizen facilities, libraries, and higher education buildings.
Q: So what am I voting on?
BOND A would provide $17 million for better equipment at senior citizen centers, among other things.
“This money is much needed for our seniors,” said Richie Vellon, a senior citizen in Corrales.
“Sometimes all it takes are new games, like bingo cards and ink markers- therapy equipment to get the muscles moving and to really make us happy. The building needs to be expanded for more activities.”
Vellon said the facility in Corrales is a second home for him, and the staff are great at what they do. “I only want it to grow into happiness,” Vellon said.
BOND B would provide $11 million for academics, public schools, tribal schools and public library resources.
Ariel Gonzales, who uses the library in Taylor Ranch said libraries could use more technology.
“I think that libraries should have wifi now-a-days, and they don’t. Technology needs to be updated at the public libraries for it to be modern. If not, these places are going to become more of a ghost town,” Gonzales said.
Dean P. Smith, director of ABC Library in Albuquerque, said the bonds would be used to purchase materials. G.O. bonds are the only source of funding for the state’s rural libraries.
BOND C would provide $141 million for colleges and tribal schools with capital projects and materials. If the bond passes, UNM could receive $20.5 million for the Farris Engineering Building and $12 million for the Health and Sciences building.
Farris is in need of major renovations, said Abhaya Datye, chairman of the Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department.
“First of all, there are leaks. Every time it drains it goes right on million dollar equipment, and so we have to cover it. The ceiling tiles are falling apart.” Datye said.
Money that is approved as part of Bond C will improve the building’s safety, Datye said.
“The second problem is that the Farris building is not up to code,” Datye said. “The handicap access requires a person in a wheelchair to have to go to other side of the building to enter.”[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/2″][text_output]
State constitutional amendments
Voters casting ballots in the Nov. 4 election will consider five amendments to the state Constitution.
The amendments could allow school elections to be held with other elections; boost student representation on the Northern New Mexico Community College Board of Regents and change allocations from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, among other things.
Q: So what am I voting on?
AMENDMENT ONE: SCHOOL ELECTIONS
Currently, school elections cannot be held on the same day as nonpartisan elections. Amendment One looks to reverse that to allow simultaneous elections on the same day or ballot.
The proposed amendment stems from a women’s suffrage controversy during New Mexico Constitution’s draft. At the time, women were allowed to vote in school elections, but not other elections. As such, school elections were held at different times to prevent women from voting in non-school elections, according to the New Mexico Legislative Council Service.
State Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-N.M.) proposed amendments One and Three.
“The existence of this in our Constitution is offensive. We should just do the principled thing,” Ivey-Soto said. “We spread out [elections] and lose accountability. Contrary to the belief that it would confuse people… the real problem is that we have people show up to different elections.”
AMENDMENT TWO: NORTHERN NEW MEXICO COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Amendment Two would allow Northern New Mexico College to have a student member on the board of regents.
The board of regents helps determine admission requirements, scholarships, faculty tenures, and other important economic aspects to each institution.
NNMC has been a four-year institution since 2006 and is the only current four-year institution without a student body member on the board of regents.
“Our students deserve what they might get at any other four-year institution,” said Ricky Serna, NNMC’s vice president for institutional advancement.
“We feel like there are no excuses because it does not take resources to do so. We need to afford our students this opportunity.”
AMENDMENT THREE: JUSTICES AND JUDGES RETENTION
As of now, justices and judges file for retention candidacy at the same time as primary election candidates. Amendment Three would allow the Legislature to set the date for judicial candidates to file.
AMENDMENT FOUR: URBAN COUNTIES
In 2000, New Mexico voted in favor of Bernalillo County becoming an urban county. Since, no other counties have been eligible to become “urban” counties, which allow for more self-governmental authority and would result in less dependence on the state legislature.
Amendment Four would permit Valencia and Curry counties to become urban counties if their populations reach more than 300,000. According to the US Census Bureau in 2013, Valencia County’s population reached 76,284 and Curry County’s was 50,598.
AMENDMENT FIVE: THE LAND GRANT PERMANENT FUND
Amendment Five is three-pronged.
First, it would let more than 15 percent of the Land Grant Permanent Fund be for investments in foreign corporations. With the Land Grant Permanent Fund, Congress designates land across the state for public infrastructure and higher education institutions.
Secondly, it would change the investment standard to the Uniform Prudent Investor Act, which would modernize the state’s standard in comparison of other states.
According to the Uniform Law Commission, the Uniform Prudent Investor Act would prevent unruly investments from the State Investment Council.
“It provides rules governing investment that, in fact, result in greater protection for the trust’s assets while providing a prospect of better income,” according to the Uniform Law Commission.
“UPIA does not encourage irresponsible, speculative behavior, but requires careful assessment of investment goals, careful analysis of risk versus return, and diversification of assets to protect them.”
Thirdly, it also would raise the reserve requirement from $5.8 billion to $10 billion, according to the New Mexico Legislative Council Service.[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][text_output]
Navajo Nation bonds
On Nov. 4, Navajo Nation members will elect the next nation president. Members also vote on the state’s general obligation bonds, which include many projects around the nation.
The Navajo Nation is one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States. However, of about 300,000 Navajo people, 122,000 are registered to vote.
Q: So what are tribal members voting on?
“The 2014 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed seventeen million dollars ($17,000,000) to make capital expenditures for certain senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition projects and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?”
Bond A supports senior citizen facility improvement, construction, and equipment acquisition projects in 31 counties, including three that are part of the Navajo Nation; McKinley, San Juan, and Sandoval counties.
Residents say finding funding for senior citizens centers on the Navajo Nation is difficult and that for many years, chapters in New Mexico have been in need of improvements.
Buildings in the Chinchiltah Chapter, for example, has a history of water leaks, asbestos, and infrastructure that does not comply with environmental standards. Members for years have tried to find ways to fund projects that would continue to contribute to their community’s overall safety and commitment to the elderly.
This chapter is made up of around 1,000 people and a near 200 families “still haul water, and a sizeable number are without electricity,” according to an article in the Navajo Times on December 12, 2014.
In an article in the Navajo Times on August 7, 2014, Tse’Daa’Kaan Chapter indicated it has little support from Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation, to make improvements.
“The 2014 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of library acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed eleven million dollars ($11,000,000) to make capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?”
For tribal members, that means that if approved the measure would provide funding to the eighteen tribal libraries in New Mexico, the only places available for community members to access the web. Tribal libraries offer Native communities access to employment and education in a growing technological world. Tribal libraries are not maintained like community libraries should be due to lack of funding.
“The 2014 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvement and acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed one hundred forty-one million dollars ($141,000,000) to make capital expenditures for certain higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvements and acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?”
Cinnamon Blair, chief marketing and communications officer at UNM, said that all two year-and four-year universities throughout the state “make requests for capital funding, some of which fall under the general obligation bond.” Requests are viewed by lawmakers who decide which projects to fund.
For tribal members, approval of Bond C would allow for funding for two schools of higher education on the Navajo Nation. The bond would contribute to the planning and designing of a math and science building at Diné College in Shiprock and would support a project to plan, design and construct a multi-purpose wellness and education center at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint.
Valiollah Manavi, an instructor of Mathematics at Diné College, said an update to the facilities and the purchase of new lab equipment would make for a quality education for students. He said “the buildings are old, maybe from the 1980’s or early ’70’s.”