Voters overwhelmingly defeated all three tax measures in Albuquerque Public Schools’ special mail-in election Tuesday night.
APS was asking voters to approve a bond measure and two property tax levy measures that were estimated to raise roughly $900-million over the next six years while raising property taxes by about 4.7 percent.
By around 10 a.m. Wednesday, unofficial results released by the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office indicated that each measure would fail.
Question one, which would have charged $2 per every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value failed with around 73,000 votes against the measure, to around 41,000 votes for the measure.
Question two, which would have charged $4.83 per every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value failed with around 73,000 votes against the measure, to around 32,000 votes for the measure.
The final question for a general obligation bond failed with around 56,000 votes against the measure, to around 41,000 votes for the measure.
The failure is a big blow for APS, which had outlined at least 23 school-related construction projects it was hoping to take care of with the funding. The district says those projects were related to school security, school rebuilding, classroom additions, ADA improvements and more.
APS will now have to go back to the drawing board on how to fund those projects.
District Superintendent Raquel Reedy said in part in a statement Tuesday night that she is “disappointed” in the outcome of the election and that the district will have to “reassess” what’s next.
The special election is notable for its voter turnout. About 29 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Tuesday’s special mail-only election. It was also the first mail-in election for APS.
Typically, similar elections in years past have only drawn single-digit turnout.
District leaders wrapped up a press conference Wednesday. They say the proposed project at Grant Middle School is one of the 11 projects that mill levy bond would have paid for.
“It’s like any household. So if you’re in a house and you’re on a tight budget and you have a roof that needs to be replaced. We have lots of roofs that need to be replaced. If you cannot afford it for your own personal home what do you do? You go up on the roof and you patch and then you patch again. You put Band-Aids in order to keep things functioning so that you can live in your house. This is what we’re going to do,” said APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy.
District leaders are working to figure out which project will have to be put on hold. They hope to release a list in the coming weeks.
It is rare for a school bond or mill levy not to pass. The last time that happened for APS was in 2002.
APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy’s full statement:
“The ballots have been counted and the voters have made their wishes clear. The majority voted against a bond/mill levy package that would have paid to improve student safety, rebuild and repair our schools and refresh our technology and equipment. We are disappointed, of course. But we respect the democratic process and the will of the electorate. We appreciate all of those who rallied on behalf of our school district. Now we will need to reassess our situation and come up with a plan for addressing issues that come with aging schools.”