Española, NM – Voters in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe County turned out in high numbers to voice support of Northern New Mexico College’s Mill Levy during the November 5 local election.
“I want to say a special thank you to our community members who were very enthusiastic about getting out the vote and having their voices heard,” Northern New Mexico College President Rick Bailey said. “The message we received was very clear.”
Of the 6,147 voters in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe County who voted on the measure, 3,828 or 62% said yes to providing $2.4 Million annually to establish and sustain associate degree programs in trades at Northern. The first programs to be implemented are plumbing/pipefitting and electrical, with the hands-on portion of those programs taking place on the College’s El Rito campus. The Mill Levy also provides for the expansion of dual credit and trades education opportunities for residents of the Española, Pojoaque, Chama Valley, Mesa Vista, and Jemez Mountain School districts, including free transportation to and from Northern’s campuses.
Due to an unfortunate error, Northern’s Mill Levy question did not appear on the ballot for 54 voters in the two precincts of Taos County that are within the Mesa Vista School District. The majority of residents of the Mesa Vista School District cast ballots that included the College’s mill levy initiative in Rio Arriba County.
President Bailey is actively working with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office and the Taos County Clerk’s office to resolve the issue as soon as possible. While the number of voters in Taos county is not significant enough to affect the outcome of the election, the omission of the question from those ballots raises questions about how the tax could be applied moving forward.
“We are the first co-located community college in the state, and there are so many barriers that we overcame to get to this place,” Bailey said. “I want to make sure that we are doing everything with the full blessing of the Secretary of State, the Mesa Vista School District, and Taos County.”
Bailey said the he felt confident a resolution would be reached within the next few weeks, after which the College can begin putting proposals before the Branch Community College Board, who will ultimately have jurisdiction over how the Mill Levy money is spent.
“The support for the initiative was so overwhelming,” Bailey said. “I feel confident that we have a very strong mandate from the public to move forward.”