Did You Know (Q & A)

Boy in hardhat with questionsQuestions and Answers About the
Capital Improvements Mill Levy

Q: When is the two-mill levy election?
A: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Q: How much money will the two-mill levy generate for RRPS?
A: Approximately $4.3 million/year.

Q: What exactly is levy money used for?
A: The funding provided by the two-mill levy allows the district to keep its buildings in good repair and fix things when they break, like the air conditioning, plumbing, electrical systems, etc.

Q: Can’t buildings be maintained with my regular tax dollars?
A: Yes, but every dollar that is used for maintenance and repairs is deducted from money allocated to classrooms. The levy gives the district funding to maintain facilities without impacting instructional materials and personnel.

Q: Are RRPS buildings currently in disrepair?
A: No. Thanks in part to the passing of the 2012 two-mill levy, our buildings are clean and functional. But like all facilities, buildings that are not maintained quickly fall into disrepair, and as every homeowner knows, the cost of fixing something is far more expensive than the cost of keeping it in good operational condition.

Q: Isn’t school building maintenance the state’s responsibility?
A: No. It is the responsibility of the local district. However, the state does provide matching funds to districts whose voters support the two-mill levy. While not a one-to-one match, it is a considerable amount of money. For example, in 2015-16 RRPS received an additional $818,425 in revenue to support maintenance and technology and the initial estimate for 2017-18 is around $600,000.

Q: Will my tax rates go up if the two-mill levy is passed?
A: No.  Passage re-authorizes the mill levy that is already in effect.  Rio Rancho voters originally passed the mill levy in 1994 and the rate has stayed the same since then.  The school district is required every six years to ask the voters to renew the mill levy.  

Q: I don’t have children in RRPS schools. Why is building maintenance important to me?
A: Quality, well-maintained schools attract families and businesses to Rio Rancho. Realtors will tell you that Rio Rancho’s schools are one of the biggest reasons families — and businesses — choose to move to Rio Rancho. The district’s academic results are a big draw, but so are its safe, clean, functional facilities. The quality of RRPS’s facilities also supports economic development and brings visitors – and their dollars – into our city.

Q: What is the difference between the two-mill levy and SB-9 money?
A: Nothing. They are different terms for the same source. On your ballot, it will be identified as “Public School Capital Improvements (2 Mill) Tax Question”.

Q: How much does this cost me on my property taxes?
A:  The two-mill levy, as the name implies, generates $2 per $1000 of a property's taxable value.  Taxable value is 1/3 of the appraised value of the property.  For example, if you have a $150,000 home, the taxable value would be $50,000, so the levy would come to $100 per year (slightly less if you have a head of household or veterans exemption). The levy amount appears on your tax bill as "RIO RANCHO PSD CAP IMP".

Q: Is the two-mill levy the same as a bond issue?
A: No. They are two different things. Bonds are used to finance big projects, like building new schools, classroom additions or major renovations to existing buildings. The bonds, like a loan, are paid back with interest over a period of several years. The mill levy, on the other hand, provides an ongoing revenue stream to pay for everyday maintenance and repairs.

Q: What happens if the 2018 two-mill levy fails to pass?
A: Crucial building maintenance would either not be performed or would have to be paid for by taking operational money out of the classroom. Over time, schools would become more run-down and less effective as learning environments. In addition, the district would lose matching funds provided by the state.

Q: How do I know my levy money is being used wisely?
A: Independent studies conducted by the Center for American Progress, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, ranked Rio Rancho Public Schools top in the state in terms of “bang for the buck” — strong educational results relative to per-student funding. It provides independent confirmation that RRPS uses its dollars wisely to produce results in the classroom.

Q:  Who may vote in the mill levy election?
A:  Any registered voter residing in the Rio Rancho Public Schools district may cast a ballot.  To find out if you are a registered Rio Rancho voter, contact the Sandoval County Bureau of Elections at 867-7577.

Q: Where and when can I vote?
A: Follow this link for a list of Election Day polling places, early voting sites, an interactive map, and absentee voting information.

Q:  I'm not registered to vote.  How can I register?
A: The State of New Mexico has an online registration portal where any eligible citizen may register to vote.  The registration deadline to be eligible to vote in the mill levy election is Tuesday, January 9.  

Q: Why can’t the levy election be held at the same time as the city election?
A: New Mexico state law does not allow it. Article VII, Section 1 of the NM Constitution specifies that, “All school elections shall be held at different times from other elections.”