School board sends $5 million bond issue to voters

Darrell Todd Maurina

The Clovis Municipal School Board voted Monday night to ask voters to approve a $5 million bond issue for building projects that could lead to additional state matching grants of more than $5.7 million.
The proposal would require a Feb. 3 vote, but school officials and bond consultants said it shouldn’t require any tax increase — provided Clovis continues its economic growth.
The board approved the proposal unanimously, but not before board member Mark Lansford grilled district officials and bond consultant Kevin Powers on the proposal’s underlying assumptions.
Powers, representing the RBC Dain Rauscher company in Albuquerque, argued that no tax increase will be needed because tax revenues will increase without a rate hike as the community’s property values will continue to increase.
“What happens if the economy doesn’t grow or the (Cannon Air Force) Base closes?” asked Lansford. “If the assessed value goes down, the tax rate goes up.”
Clovis schools Superintendent Neil Nuttall said Lansford’s concerns are valid, but represent a worst-case scenario.
“For the last 10 years, probably the last 20 years, our assessed valuation has not gone down,” Nuttall said. “It could happen, but it has not happened, and I think the chances are very low.”
While maintaining that no tax increase is needed, Powers presented statistics showing that at $6.964 per $1,000 assessed valuation, Clovis has one of the lower residential tax rates for capital improvement in the state. He said that’s less than the state average of $8.099 for districts with more than 3,000 students and much less than the Gadsden district near Las Cruces with a $16.364 rate or the Bernalillo district near Albuquerque with a $11.472 rate.
Following the vote, board president Lora Harlan said members need to encourage community support for the bond.
“We have an election to promote, and I think the best thing we could do is leave this room with a positive attitude that this is the best thing for our kids,” Harlan said.