AZTEC - Residents who took time out of their lunch hour to vote came down on both sides of a proposal to slighly increase a mill levy used to support schools.
Voters trickled in during the noon hour at the Aztec Schools Administration Building. Over 150 had cast ballots by 1 p.m.
Despite the increase, Virginia Jones, a teacher at San Juan College, said it is a modest one, especially when compared with other states.
“The schools need the support,” Jones said. “I don't notice the increase in property tax too much.”
But some voters focused more on the property tax increase than the benefit to schools.
Brenda Huddleston, a Bloomfield Kindergarten teacher, was among the dissenting votes.
“I haven't received a cost-of-living raise in many years,” Huddleston said. “Meanwhile, everything's gone up. Let the district act like the rest of us and make do.”
Huddleston said she has always supported the levy in the past, but she has seen far too many expenses soar while she made sacrifices in her own finances to justify supporting the levy this time around.
“Doesn't everyone have to live within a budget?” she asked.
Most of the voters who spoke with the Daily Times on Tuesday supported the measure, however.
Iola and Larry Parks also cast ballots in favor of the mill levy. They cited the importance of investing in Aztec schools.
“We have a grandson in school now, so the levy obviously matters to us,” said Iola, a retired second-grade teacher. “The district needs money to operate. If we don't show our support, the students will suffer.”
John Cater, an archeologist who lives in Aztec, has children currently enrolled in school.
“Of course I support the levy,” he said after a quick trip inside to vote. “The children in our community are always worth the investment.”
Laurie Ritter, a homemaker who put five kids through school in Aztec, happily voted in favor of the levy.
“I support it 100 percent,” Ritter said. “Talk about Tiger pride, we have some of the best run and maintained schools in the Four Corners region.”
Carlton Gray, 47, voted for the levy. Gray's children attend school in Aztec.
“I want my kids to have a great education,” he said. “Simple as that.”
Voters who said they voted against the levy unanimously cited the cost as prohibitive, but chose not to be quoted in this story.
Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at three locations: The Aztec Schools Administration Building, 1118 W. Aztec Blvd.; Flora Vista Fire Station, #2 Road 3275; and Cedar Hill Fire Station, #4 Road 2343.