At this week's Aztec board of education meeting, members approved resolutions to set up elections for three board seats and a public school capital improvements tax question on Feb. 5.
The proposed tax question submitted by the Board of Education seeks authorization to " ... impose a property tax of $2 per $1,000 of net taxable value of the property allocated to the district under the Property Tax Code ..." This type of tax, based on a set amount per $1000 in value, is called a mill levy.
It comes on the heels of a property tax increase in September passed by San Juan County commissioners, where residents saw a significant increase in their taxes.
Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said the mill levy will cause only a small increase in property taxes, and that falling revenue from oil and gas was behind the earlier property tax increase.
"It's unprecedented economic times, there are not good times for any kind of raise," Carpenter said.
Carpenter emailed employees of the Aztec school district about changes to the school board election districts and the mill levy election, updating them on the actions taken in board meetings over the past two months.
In the email Carpenter provided to the Daily Times, he explains the property tax increase earlier this year is because of the 2008 bond still being paid for by Aztec taxpayers.
"In 2008, when we sold the bond there was very little impact on the property taxes because we had good assessed valuations on oil and gas ...," Carpenter said in the email.
"Then the bottom started to fall out as you all know and as a result there has been steadily less revenue coming in from the assessed taxation on oil and gas so unfortunately in order to cover the bond debt the property taxes went up. So in short that is why we saw a property tax increase."
School Board President Mitch Waggoner said while the proposed mill levy is a small increase, it's necessary to keep the school district funded and provide money for current technology.
"We need the funding, it's very important to have it," Waggoner said. "Technology is very important, it's in all of our lives. You got to have technology be state of the art, you can't get behind. It takes forever to get caught up."
According to Carpenter, the school district receives $1.8 million a year in mill money, with about $1.4 million allocated to operate the maintenance and technology departments.
"To say it's important to a district, we can't say it enough," Carpenter said. "It's absolutely essential we have it."
Carpenter said the school district is being very conscientious about the taxes, which is why the 2011 bond passed has not been sold and will not be sold until the economy bounces back. The school district has four more years to act on the 2011 bond.
Along with passing resolutions on the proposed mill levy, the school district is preparing for its first board elections since forming school board districts.
When the population within Aztec Municipal Schools' boundaries exceeded 16,000 residents, it triggered a law requiring school board elections by district.
AMS formed five board member districts to replace the five at-large seats the board currently has.
"The ideal number for the school board districts was (approximately) 3,600 residents for each of the five districts," Carpenter said.
When drawing up the board member districts, each one could not be bigger or smaller in size by five percent.
As the districts were finalized, it was determined two of the board members lived in District 2. Secretary Wayne Farmer and member Christy Lillywhite both live in the area for District 2, but Farmer has submitted his resignation from his position as secretary.
With Farmer's resignation, Lillywhite is eligible to run for the seat in District 2 in the upcoming election. The winner of the District 2 board seat will finish out Farmer's term, which ends in 2015.
The elections for two other districts, 1 and 3, will have new terms starting in March.
The school board election district boundaries are defined as:
The part of Precinct 69 which is in District 4 is south and west of the line as defined by the school district:
The part of Precinct 69 which is in District 5 is north and east of the line as defined by the school district: