Bond ‘B’ could help area colleges

Ryan Lengerich

Area higher education officials say a bond that would allocate $94.5 million is crucial to projects planned at local colleges.

Voters will decide Nov. 2 if funding the projects is worth a slight rise in property taxes. Bond “B” will provide funding for equipment and building projects at universities and colleges around the state. If approved by voters, it’s estimated that property tax bills would increase an average of $15.26 per year on a $150,000 home, according to the state board of finance. Question “B” is one of four bond questions on the ballot. Each will be voted on separately at the Nov. 2 general election.

Mesalands Community College, Clovis Community College in Clovis, Eastern New Mexico University in Portales are among state colleges that would benefit from the bond.
Mesalands Community College President Phillip O. Barry said voters approved funding for school improvement in 2002, but the full amount needed was not allocated by the legislators. If passed, the bond would provide $600,000 to complete a $1.4 million project.

Barry said a new exercise facility and a 120-person lecture hall will be built and voters have been receptive to the bond.
“We are just fortunate to have a community college. They are willing to invest in that,” said Barry. Clovis Community College is slated to receive $650,000 for classroom expansion; $500,000 of that money would be for a new allied health building in the lot adjacent to the new library.
“What we are really looking forward to is being able to establish more ties with economic development in the community and being able to respond to the nursing shortage by expanding our allied health program,” said CCC vice president Becky Rowley.

Voters’ concern about an increase in taxes is understandable, Rowley said, but the college is cautious when requesting funds for new facilities.
“It’s not that we think we always need to be bigger or anything like that, but there is a real demand for the education and the training that we can provide,” said Rowley.

In eastern New Mexico, ENMU has the most to gain if the bond passes, with more than $8 million going to the school. About $7 million will be for a new science center. ENMU President Steven Gamble said the school’s current science facility was erected in 1949. “We need a state-of-the-art science building if we expect our students to compete with the students from other institutions and this is our way of getting it,” said Gamble.