AZTEC — During a special election Tuesday for the Aztec Municipal School District, voters passed the continuance of the public school capital improvements tax.

With 911 votes in favor of the tax and 441 votes against it, Aztec residents approved the 2 mill levy tax for another six years, starting on July 1.

Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said he was happy the continuance passed.

"We're in the kid business, and, honestly, they are the benefactors of this," Carpenter said. "It's nice to see the community step up after the initial defeat and (see) them support the kids."

In an election Feb. 5, voters rejected a property tax increase of a little more than 11 cents, from $1.886 per $1,000 of net taxable property value to $2. It was voted down, with 411 votes against the measure and 273 votes for the increase.

School board president Wayne Ritter said he was sad the district had to go back for another election, but he was ultimately glad to see the money remain in the district's budget.

"We're sensitive as anyone about taxes on our school district," Ritter said. "I'm excited we got a good turnout for (the election)."

A total of 1,352 votes were cast in Tuesday's election. Of those, 973 were cast Tuesday at the Aztec Municipal School District Administration Building, and 379 votes came from absentee and in-person voting.

Voter turnout was steady from 7 a.m. to noon, said Anita Lewis, a clerk who worked the election. By noon, 350 votes had been cast, she said.

The money generated from the tax will provide the majority of the funding for the school district's technology and maintenance budget. Both departments have a projected annual budget of $1.4 million.

"There is nothing extraordinary about mill money, but you can't do without safety or desks," Carpenter said.

The funds will help the school district avoid having to make budget cuts.
Voters complete their ballots during a mill levy vote for Aztec school’s capital improvement tax in Aztec on Tuesday.
Voters complete their ballots during a mill levy vote for Aztec school's capital improvement tax in Aztec on Tuesday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
The 2 mill money accounts for 5 percent of the school district's budget.

"Passing this allows us to not worry in a year or two about adding more stress on our operations budget that honestly couldn't handle it," Carpenter said. "It would have affected the kids, our programs and staff."

After voting for the 2 mill levy Tuesday, Jennifer and Kevin Reed said they wanted to make sure their children received the best education possible.

Jennifer Reed said she didn't vote in the last election but made an effort to learn about the issue before voting Tuesday.

"My young kids in the school district deserve the best, and if I can help, I will," she said.

Joshua Kellogg can be reached at jkellogg@daily-times.com; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.