In an effort to offer more associate degree programs in some of the most employable trades in the region and to strengthen dual-credit options for high school students, Northern New Mexico College will ask voters in parts of Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos counties to approve a permanent 2 mill levy on their Nov. 5 ballots.
The levy would generate $2.4 million annually in property tax revenue to benefit programs at the college, which offers two-year and four-year degrees at its campuses in Española and El Rito. College President Rick Bailey said the tax revenue would help establish associate degree programs in plumbing and pipe fitting, as well as expand the school’s electrician program.
“We know demand for those career fields is high, and we know the starting salaries are high. On top of that, we know the demand for those jobs is going to remain strong,” Bailey said. “This is the most important decision the community has made for the college in a decade. I really mean that.”
Bailey said revenue from the levy, which would not expire, would not be spent building new facilities.
The initiative will be on the ballot for voters who live within the Española, Pojoaque, Mesa Vista, Chama Valley and Jemez Mountain public school districts. If the levy is approved, some of the funds would be used to provide free transportation from each high school in those districts to Northern New Mexico College campuses.
“El Rito is a long way away,” said Pojoaque Valley Schools Superintendent Sondra Adams. “Taking away the barrier of transportation, that equalizes opportunity for every student. Then you don’t need to have a car to go to community college.”
According to a news release, Northern has partnered with the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 412 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union 611 to recruit 200 students for the new programs by fall 2020.
The levy would cost the average homeowner $2 for each $1,000 of taxable property value, which is one-third of a home’s assessed value. A homeowner with property assessed at $200,000 would therefore pay about $133 a year in taxes.
Neither Santa Fe Community College nor Santa Fe Public Schools will place a mill levy on local voters’ ballots. During a special mail-in election held in March, 59 percent of Santa Fe voters opted to renew a property tax for the school district that provides $11 million annually for five years for technology upgrades and digital learning staff.
Early voting for the Nov. 5 election begins Oct. 8.