Aztec schools create capital projects funds

Joshua Kellogg
Daniel Lawson, a daily operations supervisor for the Aztec Municipal School District, changes a light outside the Lillywhite Gym at Aztec High School on Feb. 6, 2013. The district plans to create three accounts to set aside money for future capital projects.

AZTEC — The Aztec Municipal School District plans to create three new accounts to set aside $1.55 million for future capital projects in a move that administrators hope will secure long-term funding without raising taxes.

The board of education on Thursday approved transferring $650,000 in 2 mill funds to three separate accounts.

An annual deposit will be made into each of the accounts until they accrue a certain total. The funds will pay for roof repairs and replacements, a solar energy system and a new activity bus, according to Gary Martinez, the district’s director of finance. Money in the accounts will only be spend on those projects and will not be available for other capital projects.

Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said the downturn in the natural gas market has affected the district’s tax base. He said he does not know when the district will hold another bond election in the future.

Carpenter said it’s important for the district to establish long-range plans to fund capital projects and to avoid raising property taxes by selling new bonds.

“We’re trying to be responsible for our taxpayers,” Carpenter said.

Aztec residents saw an increase in their property tax rate this year. Aztec residential property taxes increased $1.702 per $1,000 net taxable value of a home, going from $8.798 to $10.50.

That means the owners of a house in Aztec valued at $150,000 will pay an additional $83.25 a year and a total of $525 in property taxes on school district debt.

Martinez said the district isn’t planning on selling the remaining $6 million in bonds leftover from the $17 million bond election in 2012. The board approved selling $11 million in bonds last year.

From left, Cameron Mattox and Bill Kirtland clean out a sewer line at Aztec High School on Feb. 6, 2013.

The fund for roof repairs and replacement will receive $500,000 this year and $50,000 annually until it reaches $750,000.

Carpenter said the roofs of district facilities require attention since repairs were not included in the projects funded by the 2012 bond election.

“We’re going to have to do some major roof work around the district,” Carpenter said.

The fund for a planned solar energy system will receive $100,000 this year and $25,000 until it reaches $500,000.

Carpenter said the district is looking into buying and installing the system to reduce operations expenses. By reducing utility costs, Carpenter said the money saved can be spent on salaries for teachers and supplies for schools.

A fund to pay for a new activity bus will receive $50,000 this year and annual $50,000 payments until it reaches $300,000.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.