College Board of Trustees voted unanimously last night at a special meeting to pursue a bond measure in a special election on Aug. 20 to fund renovation and expansion of the Technical Education Center.
The bond measure, considered a general obligation bond, would seek $15.85 million for constructing, furnishing, equipping and improving the center, which was built in 1977.
If the measure is passed by voters in August, the additional property taxes collected on all property owned in the county, will be used to repay the loan used for construction. The additional property tax will expire when the total amount of the loan is collected in taxes, which is estimated to be 16 years. The bond measure would create an estimated tax impact of $1.92 per month ($23.04 per year), per $100,000 of a property’s value.
More than two dozen people were in attendance at the meeting that began with a public hearing. Several attendees spoke in favor of the bond measure, including current and past students and some instructors who teach in the current building. They noted the lack of space in the current facility and their frustration at seeing students turned away from the welding, diesel and machine technology programs.
“I know all our faculty are lifelong learners and very dedicated to our professions,” said Kevin Fox, a welding instructor at SC. “We are prepared to do whatever it takes to not turn away students. We’ve turned down 50 students for the next year that will not be able to go into their chosen fields. By doing this (building expansion) we’ll be able to open up to at least 15 more students. I am for this. Our students are for it.”
No one in attendance spoke against the proposed bond measure.
After receiving the public comments, the board heard from Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies via phone. Weigel updated the board on a poll her company had conducted of 300 Sheridan County residents who were considered “likely” voters in a special election.
Weigel noted that the survey included a broad spectrum of the community and found that three-in-five voters polled said they would support a bond measure, with 32 percent of people polled indicating they would “definitely” vote yes and 21 percent saying they would definitely vote “no.”
“The community is clearly telling us that this type of a proposal is something they are amenable to,” Weigel said.
“We began our information gathering process in January, and the board is gratified that we have a good level of support in the community,” Board Chairwoman Kati Sherwood said. “We believe this means that the community is open to hearing our message and we’ll work hard to communicate our needs to them between now and Aug. 20.”