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Rebuild, Repair, Refresh: 2019 Mail-in Election

Posted November 19, 2018, 12:15 PM. Updated February 6, 2019, 8:57 AM.

In mid-January, registered voters who reside in the Albuquerque Public Schools district will receive a ballot in the mail. They have until Feb. 5 to return it.

What's On the Ballot?

The ballot will have three questions. The legal wording is a little confusing, but in a nutshell, voters are being asked to check yes or no on a bond/mill levy package that would increase property taxes by 4.7 percent to help pay for more than $1 billion in school improvements over the next six years. That amounts to an increase of about $8 a month for a $150,000 home or about $12 a month for a $220,000 home.

Why Increase Taxes?

It's been a dozen years since APS has asked for a property tax increase, but the additional bump is needed to offset rising construction costs.

In the past 5 years, Albuquerque/Bernalillo County construction costs have increased on average by 12 percent a year.

  • In 2014 the average construction cost per square foot was $197.77.
  • In 2018 the average construction cost per square foot was $315.88.

The reasons for the construction cost increases include:

  • The lingering New Mexico recession
  • A shortage of qualified technical/construction workers in New Mexico
  • Increase in costs of building materials including steel, concrete, and wood
Approval of the bond/mill levies would pump about $100 million a year into the local economy.

Where Would the Money Go?

If voters approve the three questions on the 2019 mail-in ballot, the District will be able to do 3 things:

  1. Rebuild aging schools
  2. Repair buildings and grounds and improve safety and security
  3. Refresh technology and educational equipment

All 142 APS schools, as well as charter schools, would receive funding.

1. Rebuild

Nearly $553 million is slated for school design and construction.

Many APS schools were built decades ago and are showing their age. In the last bond/mill levy election, voters overwhelmingly approved funding to rebuild schools across the district. Some got new classroom wings, others got new gyms, cafeterias, science labs, art and music additions, theaters, courtyards, athletic fields and — in a few cases — entirely new schools.

This go-round, APS has prioritized 11 new projects and is seeking funding to continue 23 that are already underway. Projects range from replacing schools like Harrison Middle School and Janet Kahn Elementary to new athletic facilities for Eldorado and Rio Grande high schools to new classroom wings at Whittier, Hawthorne, Lavaland, Monte Vista, Sierra Vista, and Valle Vista elementaries.

APS isn't planning to build new schools at this time.

2. Repair

$94 million would go to school facility maintenance.

Some of the money raised through the bond/mill levies would go to help update and upgrade school buildings and grounds. This includes:

  • School Safety and Security
  • Roofing
  • Air Conditioning
  • Heating
  • Bus & Parent Pick-up/Drop-off Areas
  • Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Upgrades
  • Turf Fields
  • Fire Protection
  • Electrical Systems
  • Playgrounds
  • Fencing
  • Parking Lots

School Safety and Security

$20 million would toward school security and safety.

As noted, the bond/mill levies would help APS with ongoing efforts to improve school safety and security. These include:

  • Heavy-duty door locks for more than 6,500 classrooms
  • Installation of card access at all schools
  • Installation of secured remote access vestibules at the entrance of all schools
  • Perimeter fencing for all schools
  • A real-time monitored districtwide camera system
  • Construction of a school police command and coordination center

3. Refresh

More than $150 million would go to upgrading technology for students, classrooms, and schools across the District. Another $48 million would go to replace outdated school furniture and to purchase educational equipment for:

  • Physical Education
  • Libraries
  • Vocational Education
  • Music
  • Fine Arts
  • Science Labs

How Much Will This Cost Taxpayers?

The District is asking for a 4.7 percent increase in property taxes, which amounts to $2 per $1,000 taxable value (the taxable value is a third of the home value).

Proposed Tax Increase
Home ValueNet Taxable ValueIncrease per MonthIncrease per Year
$100,000 $33,333 $5.56 $66.67
$150,000 $50,000 $8.33 $100.00
$220,000 $73,333 $12.22 $146.67
$280,000 $93,333 $15.56 $186.67
$350,000 $116,667 $19.44 $233.33

Recent Projects Paid for with Taxpayer-Approved Dollars