Feb. 14--CARLSBAD -- Oil and natural gas companies are not the sole beneficiary of increasing profits thanks to a Southeastern New Mexico boom.
The industry accounted for 31.5 percent of New Mexico's General Fund revenues for the 2013 fiscal year, according to a study released last week by the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, a non-profit organization based in Albuquerque.
The General Fund is used to pay for the operating costs of New Mexico public schools and higher education and comprises the bulk of total funds school municipalities receive.
Carlsbad Municipal Schools benefitted more than all other Eddy County school districts, receiving more than $14.1 million in funding from state monies collected from the oil and gas industry.
The General Fund uses a formula to distribute money to each school municipality and oil and gas monies are equally distributed regardless is the industry has operations in a municipality. Part of the formula includes the counting attendance at each school throughout the year.
The employment growth in Carlsbad has applied some pressure to the school district as it juggles the maintenance of infrastructure to accommodate additional students.
"It puts more children in our district and the challenge for the district is placing them in the schools where we have class and school size requirements and evaluating the need for portable buildings as an option," said Laura Garcia, the director of finance for the Carlsbad Municipal Schools. "So that does present some challenges because you have the kids here now and eventually the funding catches up with them if they stay in the system over the course of time. The issue of whether there's sufficient funding to school districts is also a question and it's discussed pretty much every year at the legislative session."
Garcia wouldn't speculate if the current system of distributing oil and gas money to schools was fair but acknowledged that many municipalities scattered around the state take issue with the current funding formula for various reasons.
More than 1,600 students have attended Carlsbad High School since the 2007-08 school year and the municipality has seen an increase in enrollment each year since 2010-11. Carlsbad Municipal Schools projects the high school to reach 1,700 students by next year and growth to steadily continue for the next six years.
Of the other Eddy County school districts, Artesia Public Schools received roughly $7.77 million in oil and gas General Fund monies and Loving Municipal Schools collected about $1.64 million.
Albuquerque Public Schools, the state's largest school municipality, received more than $186 million in funding thanks to oil and gas operations despite no drilling around the city.
The state of New Mexico collected a total of $5.6 billion in revenues for use in the FY 2013 General Fund, of which more than $1.7 billion was collected from the oil and gas industry by way of taxes and other operating costs.
Funding totals for all public school districts are available at newmexico31.com. The New Mexico Tax Institute's study is available in its entirety at nmtri.org.
Reporter Zack Ponce can be reached at (575) 689-7402.
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