Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s president was confident he has support for today’s mill levy election but he remained uncertain if he will have the votes in the final hours before election day.
“We know that we have the majority of support of the residents of Chaves County,” said President John Madden. “The question is, will they vote?”
Madden, however, said he has faced strong opposition in the past few weeks over ENMU-R’s decision to ask county residents for the increase in property taxes to fund operating expenses. The tax would be indefinite.
He said the group was a type of “virulent strain” of an anti-tax group and unfortunately they were vocal.
“They are scum,” Madden said. “I think these people are anti-everything. And I’m angry. I go to meetings and I get booed. … It’s as if because they are bad people, they can do whatever they want.”
A failure of the mill levy could have an immediate negative impact, Madden said.
“The hard part for us will be Wednesday morning. It could be a really ugly day and I don’t think the community understands that,” Madden said.
The result could determine whether the college will continue to offer its vast array of programs. ENMU-R offers the highest percentage of complex courses (44 percent) of community colleges in the southern region of New Mexico.
Madden and his instructors have actively been in the classroom discussing the mill levy election with ENMU-R students, he confirmed Monday.
One English teacher, Annemarie Oldfield, used editorial cartoons to discuss with her students how she felt the media was biased against the school’s election and “how important information was being neglected and what sorts of scare tactics were being used.”
“We think the truth is important,” Madden said. “We are trying our utmost to spread the truth. Yes, our students ask questions because they don’t understand the misinformation in the community. (The liars) make me angry. They are liars and they’re damn liars.”
One of the new polling places, put in place with the Voting Convenience Center system, is located on the ENMU-R campus. The new voting system will be a first in the county. Registered voters will be able to vote at any of the 10 sites.
Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko expects a significant voter turnout — up to 25 percent — for the special election. Early voters turned out in heavy numbers. More than 5 percent had voted by Friday.
ENMU-R is asking voters for an increase in property tax to fund its operations at current levels. If passed, the increase is expected to generate $2.1 million a year for the school.
For a homeowner of a $100,000 home, once the current building construction bond retires this year, the proposed mill levy would add $66.67 next year. The total paid to ENMU-R would be $96.57.