FARMINGTON — Administrators in Aztec and Bloomfield school districts are bracing for tight budgets as the production of oil and gas in San Juan County slows.
Property taxes in both districts will increase, as revenue from oil and gas production declines, to ensure school bond payments are made.
This area of the state is highly dependent on the oil and gas industries, said Gary Giron, director of finance and operation for the Bloomfield School District. As the value of oil and gas has dropped, there has been a decrease in tax revenue. And that limits the amount of money in a bond the district could sell if voters approved it.
Officials from both school districts said managing their property tax money -- from a 2 mill levy -- is the key to maintaining facilities and infrastructure within the schools.
Aztec and Bloomfield residents voted to continue the 2-mill school district capital improvement tax this year. The rate is $1.886 per $1,000 of net taxable property value for both districts. The money funds the districts' technology and maintenance departments.
Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said a lot of things, such as new technology in the classrooms, are not getting done in the district because none of the $17 million in bonds approved during the 2012 election have been sold.
"If we sell anything, we are going to raise taxes," Carpenter said. "We're being very careful with mill money."
Carpenter said the district is allocating fewer dollars to technology, which means older computer systems will not be upgraded. Instead, the district is using that money to make repairs to computers and equipment, like projectors, as needed.
The property tax also covers band and football team equipment costs, as well as classroom supplies such as microscopes.
Giron said the Bloomfield school district has a plan to identify issues for this fiscal year.
"The district has worked to develop a strategy to manage all of its facilities and infrastructure within its available 2-mill capital outlay funds that it receives from tax collections," Giron said.
During a Sept. 10 school board meeting, Giron distributed a capital improvements priority plan that identified work on schools and facilities that would be accomplished this school year. The plan includes installing security doors at a number of schools, exterior lighting at Central Primary Elementary School and replacing the gymnasium bleachers at Mesa Alta Junior High School.
At the meeting, Giron said it would cost an estimated $1.5 million to repair Mesa Alta's roof. But because the district's bonding capacity has been diminished, funding those repairs will be more difficult. About $30,000 has been allocated for the roof this year.