What’s next if voters don’t approve mill levy for extension?

Editor:

I would like to encourage all property owners of Valencia County to mark your calendar and get out and vote yes for a mill levy being sponsored by the Valencia County Soil and Water Conservation on June 18. You can vote at either Los Lunas Elementary or La Merced Elementary in Belen.

This mill levy will benefit the entire community as well as provide funding for our extension office until the county is able to put them back in their budget.

For those of you that are not aware, our illustrious county commissioners (excluding Gary Daves, who I would like to thank for his support) have cut the funding for our extension office. That means our extension office is looking at closing its doors come June 30. This action can be stopped if you will get out and vote yes, as well as encourage all of your neighbors to vote yes, on June 18 in support of the mill levy. I for one cannot imagine losing our extension office, especially when you consider all of the farming we do in this valley, as well as all the services the extension service provides in this county.

Do we want to have the stigma of being the first county anywhere to see their county extension office close their doors due to a lack of funding from their county? After all, 4-H, which is part of the extension service, has been in existence for 100 years.

If you do not vote yes in support of the mill levy on June 18 and the extension office has to close their doors on June 30, what’s next?

I foresee that it may not be long before farming will be a thing of the past in this county. Is this really what we want? My family moved here because it was a farming community and we did not want to raise our boys in the city.

How long will it be before we become just like Albuquerque and all the land is subdivided into little lots and there is no more farmland? It is apparent that is what some Realtors and developers would like to see happen.

If you enjoy your rural way of life, then it is imperative that you get out and vote yes for the mill levy on June 18 and encourage all of your neighbors to do the same. It is a small price to pay in order to keep our rural way of life as well as our extension office open, along with keeping 350 youth actively involved in 4-H instead of filling the local jail that is partly to blame for the financial crisis this county is experiencing.

Jeanne Kimball

Los Lunas

No mill levy in this drought

Editor:

Here we go again. The mill levy the taxpayers are being asked to approve on June 18 is at the worst time, seeing as how the economy is at its lowest. How can the Soil and Conservation ask the people to go out and vote for a tax increase when there is a drought and the taxes are high enough already for the amount of service we receive?

The Soil and Conservation mentioned that some of the money generated from this mill levy would be used to fund 4-H and the extension service. There is nothing wrong with that. We are wholeheartedly in favor of funding this worthwhile program, as 4-H is a great way to keep kids busy and interested in community projects, not to mention the self-esteem kids derive from belonging to 4-H.

However, the Soil and Conservation should not be using 4-H as an excuse to raise taxes and place a burden on the people of Valencia County at this time. We believe the 4-H should be funded by the county from the taxes already in place.

The Soil and Conservation also mentioned in their news release that the money from the mill levy would be used to cement irrigation ditches for farmers, but what few farmers would benefit from this? As we see it now, most farmers already have their irrigation ditches cemented.

As for public trails in the bosque for walking, biking and horseriding, very few will benefit from the proposed trails. There are federal monies for these projects without having to tax the people when the economy is at its lowest.

A lot of these projects can and should be done when the economy picks up. Right now, people are grasping for air, and now is not the time to be asking people to drown themselves in more taxes.

Remember, taxpayers, Albu-querque residents turned down a proposed mill levy just about a week ago not just because of a tax increase but of the lack of voting places. The same thing is happening here in Valencia County. They announced only two voting places, again placing another burden on the taxpayers.

Remember, folks, a “no” vote counts just as much as a “yes” vote. Let it be known that we are supporters of any worthwhile service that benefits the kids of Valencia County, but this mill levy does not meet our approval at this time. Thank you.

Mr. and Mrs. Ted Sánchez

Rio Communities

Make a difference now

Editor:

Soon, the owners of property in Valencia County have the chance to make a difference. This opportunity for our community comes at a time when it seems least likely to have a good feeling about the prospects for the future of the place we have invested our energy and financial resources. The character and quality of the place we call home will be impacted by the voters in the upcoming election to be held on June 18 by the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District (VSWCD).

The VSWCD is asking voters to approve a property tax to fund crucial services to a county lacking the fiscal resources to maintain and improve the quality of life of its residents. The decision to ask the voters to impose this levy upon themselves comes at an awkward time. The current fiscal embarrassment that our county government produced collectively by our current slate of elected officials has created an environment of mistrust. It is easy to understand why a cynical view for such an effort could evolve by current property taxpayers. The possibility of compounding Valencia County’s current fiscal fiasco exists, with each additional dollar going to some government agency. Taxation is not palatable when little return can be expected, due to mismanagement, lack of prioritization and dysfunctional behavior.

Why then would anyone choose to trust taxpayer dollars to a group of individuals belonging to an organization that is not well known to the general public? The answer is simple. It is because the board of supervisors of the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District does not resemble the makeup of other governing bodies. It is made up of unpaid and non-partisan residents of the county that are either elected by fellow residents or appointed by the Isleta and Laguna Pueblos. These individuals volunteer their time and other resources toward finding workable answers to problems and concerns that challenge many of our residents daily. In fact, the current financial dilemma within the county government prompted this group to find a solution to maintaining and potentially expanding already existing programs valued and cherished by so many yet sacrificed by the negligence of so few.

The very existence of the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District is jeopardized because its funding was eliminated by the county commission. The ability to provide services to the county residents without this crucial funding would be diminished to the point nearing nonexistence. This would be tragic considering the projects this group has undertaken entail the planting of thousands of native trees and shrubs, protecting both the quality and sources of our water and attempting to reduce the proliferation of noxious weeds. Additionally, the county extension office will close its doors if another source of funding is not soon realized. The varied services this organization provides are too valuable to a community to be squandered.

It is said: “No good deed shall go unpunished.” Therefore, critics of the proposed mill levy can be found and are often vocal. Unfortunately, the criticism often comes without the solutions necessary to restore the viability of these progressive programs. The undeniable facts are that these programs require dollar resources. Nothing that is worth anything can be found for free. If funding does not come from one source then it must come from another or the program must be eliminated. The consequence of losing programs such as these will surely affect the desirability of living and working in Valencia County. So I ask the critics to continue to come out. Voice your opinions and bring better solutions to the table than the ones suggested by the proposed mill levy. The intent of the VSWCD is to establish an advisory group made up of citizens from outside the VSWCD board to help plan and prioritize the allocation of funds to various segments of the programs. I, for one, welcome new and better ideas.

The winds of change are blowing across the county we call our home. This became apparent with the results of the recent primary election. The rejection of incumbent candidates by voters of their own party should send a clear signal that dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs exists by those that pay the salary of the commission. This gives some hope that a future commission might restore order to the budgetary process at the county level. Maybe in future years the proposed mill levy will not be necessary and can then be allowed to expire if it is willed by the property owners. However, the mess has already been made. The overexpenditures by the county commission will take years to repay and there is little hope of restoring funding from that sector.

The end goal of the VSWCD is to help contribute in making Valencia County a better place to live, work and raise a family. As we travel through life, we impact the many things, both tangible and intangible we touch. Our existence here in Valencia County will be measured by the legacy we leave. It will be our children and grandchildren that will look through the clear vision of hindsight to judge the character of our actions. The investment we make today will help determine how Valencia County will look to future generations. I see the proposed mill levy as an obligation of stewardship for having the privilege of living in such a great place.

I encourage all eligible voters to go to the polls on June 18. Let’s join together in a collective effort to ensure that Valencia County will be as enjoyable a place to live tomorrow as it is today.

Michael W. Lundmark

Los Chavez

County must live in budget

Editor:

Regarding the half-mill levy that will be voted on June 18, it seems like every time a government agency gets in trouble with their budget their answer is to raise more funds through another mill levy (tax). We, as voters and taxpayers, must live within our budget. We cannot go to our employers every time we have a problem with our finances. This is what government agencies are doing every time they want to raise the taxes with another mill levy.

How about being truthful with the public by admitting that you cannot manage your budget? Are your personal finances out of control also? Or are you living within your personal budget?

It seems as though some of the county commissioners do not care whether or not they save the taxpayers money. They renew contracts that are the highest bid instead of giving the bids to companies that can do the same job with a 30 percent savings. The case being the contract to run the jail at $75 per day per inmate instead of $45 per day per inmate. These commissioners took campaign contributions from the company that was awarded the contract while negotiating a new contract. That seems like favoritism to me. They raised taxes when the sherriff’s department needed new equipment. What was the equipment that was bought? Has anyone ever said, “See what we bought for the sheriff’s department with the taxes that we raised? Thank you, taxpayers, for your help.”

The taxpayers’ pockets are only so deep. There is a limit to how much can be gotten out of the bottom of the pocket. Leave us something to take care of our obligations.

Regarding the animal control ordinance: How about enforcing the ordinances that are already on the books? Dogs run loose in our neighborhood along with chickens, rabbits and ducks. I have never seen anyone come out to pick up these strays. Whether or not they belong to someone is not the point. If they are not on a leash, penned up or kept in a fenced yard, then they need to be picked up and the owners notified. If no owner can be found, then the animal needs to be humanely put to sleep.

We have two dogs, and neither is allowed to run freely around the neighborhood. If we wanted chickens, we would get our own and not have the neighbor’s in our backyard.

How about getting animal control out of the office, in the trucks to pick up strays? This would help greatly. Is this not part of the job they are getting paid to do?

June Evanoff

Los Lunas

Vote for progress June 18

Editor:

Thank goodness Valencia County didn’t make the same mistake that Bernalillo County did with their mill levy election. The upcoming mill levy vote that will take place on Tuesday, the 18th, has been well advertised and explained.

I’ve seen many flyers and public forums regarding information on this mill levy, and when I vote Tuesday, I will vote for this small increase in my property taxes. This miniscule raise in taxes will provide many positive gains for me and other property owners in our county. The major benefit will be the continuation of the extension service an institution in this county which the Valencia County Commission chose to arbitrarily ax from their budget in January. The other benefits we will gain will be to our rural countryside in the form of bosque restoration and agriculture assistance. This means prudent eradication of salt cedars, which suck up our valuable water table, construction and maintenance of safe and pleasant trails along the bosque that we all enjoy, farmer assistance with land-leveling and lining of irrigation ditches, and, best of all, a committee of our own citizens will be chosen to oversee the disbursement of funds obtained from this mill levy. I have been a land owner, teacher and 4-H leader in this county for many years, and I will gladly pay the extra $10 a year to keep 4-H and to develop a responsible agriculture-friendly conservation program for our rural community. Why would we not vote for progress? Make sure you are well informed, and vote for the mill levy on Tuesday.

Melodie Good

Rio Communities

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.