Legal challenge to bond elections puts projects on hold in New Mexico

Legal challenge to bond elections puts projects on hold in New Mexico

Lawsuit seeks to have Feb. 2 bond election ruled invalid for school district, community college in Albuquerque 

Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque and the Albuquerque school district have put their bond and mill levy projects on hold while a lawsuit challenging the validity of those institutions' Feb. 2 successful referendums ballot is pending.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a lawyer in Albuquerque has sued to have passage of the bond proposals thrown out. The district won approval of a $357 million levy increase and a $200 million bond request; voters also approved the community college's $84 million bond package.

The lawyer, Robert Pidcock, contends in the suit that the district and college should have specified on the ballot all the planned capital projects covered in the bond and levy requests instead of more general descriptions of how the money would be allocated.

Zachary L. McCormick, attorney for the Albuquerque district, says the New Mexico Constitution requires district to describe only the bond money’s “purpose,” for instance “erecting, remodeling, making additions to and furnishing school buildings or purchasing or improving school grounds.”

Pidcock also contends that the school district's plan to use bond funds on a $4.9 million employee health clinic is improper because it is not a  “school building” under state law. McCormick asserts that the clinic does fit the definition of a school building—"a public school, an administration building and related school structures or facilities.”

Voters approved the bond and levy requests last month by a comfortable margin.

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