Mt. Hood Community College Board Votes in Favor of Pursuing $75m General Obligation Bond on May, 2017 Ballot
Gresham, Ore. – The Mt. Hood Community College Board of Education voted 5-1 in favor of placing a general obligation bond in the amount of $75 million on the May, 2017 ballot.
The board cast the vote during its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 8, when it heard and discussed information about the projects that would be funded with the bond. Included in the list of proposed projects were:
- Building a new Workforce and Applied Technology Center on the Gresham campus, which would house laboratories and classrooms, and expand the college’s efforts in providing applied technology careers.
- Upgrading and improving the college’s safety and security infrastructure, including the use of new technologies, and seismic upgrades and retrofitting to protect against earthquakes.
- Securing $8 million in state matching funds that will otherwise be lost, which would be used for additional support for the Workforce and Applied Technology Center.
- Freeing up more operating funds by refinancing existing capital obligations.
“We cannot continue to operate with buildings and facilities from four decades ago,” said board member Teena Ainslie. “While other colleges are expanding their facilities and programs, we’re stuck in structures from the ‘70s.”
The vote comes almost one year removed from the May 2016 bond campaign, in which the college placed a $125 million general obligation bond on the ballot. Although it was supported in large measure in certain areas of the Mt. Hood Community College district, overall it was defeated. The board believes a smaller amount will have a greater chance of success.
For the average homeowner, the bond’s impact would be determined by the assessed value of their house. With home values in the City of Gresham averaging approximately $200,000, for example, on a $75 million bond the typical taxpayer would pay less than $50 annually.
“We understand how important every dollar is to every homeowner in our district,” said board vice chair Jim Zordich. “But we desperately need their support, and so do the thousands of students who pass through MHCC every year. At about $50 per year, we believe the cost is reasonable for residents, yet still can make a huge difference in a student’s academic career.”
If voters approve it, it would be the first time new money would come to the college since a $6 million bond passed in 1974. An oversight committee, made up in part by community and business leaders, would be formed to oversee the funds to ensure they are spent as promised.
“We cannot wait any longer,” said MHCC president Dr. Debra Derr. “If this college is to remain competitive and relevant and ready to help the residents of East County achieve their academic goals in the future, then we need the community’s help right now.”