School technology plan can bypass Santa Fe voters, raise property taxes

Posted at: 02/18/2014 10:57 PM
Updated at: 02/19/2014 8:07 AM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The city's public school board approved a $55 million levy to put more technology in classrooms, including laptops and tablets.

It would raise taxes, but taxpayers won't have a say.

The Santa Fe Public School Board voted twice: A 3-2 vote approving a technology plan to put a wireless device in every student's hands, then another 3-2 vote in favor of taxing Santa Feans for up to 5 years.

A Santa Fean who owns a $300,000 home will see their property taxes jump about $150 a year.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1996 gives school districts power to impose a property tax without putting the measure on a ballot.

"Even though the school board has the constitutional power to do this, I think it should go to a vote," said Matthew Ellis, a concerned father. "That would be the honest thing to do, have a referendum and get the chance for the public to chime in on this."

The three board members who supported passing the tax without a vote said it would take two more years before an election could be held. By that time, the district would have fallen behind.

The most outspoken member against the tax was likely Secretary Lorraine Price, who said any matter like this should go to a vote of the people.

Although the school board has passed the plan, state-level approval is still required to enact the tax.