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Mt. Hood CC Measure 26-190 - Bond

MEASURE 26-190, MT. HOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOND MEASURE OFFICIAL TITLE: Bonds to construct Applied Technology Center, Enhance Safety and SecurityQUESTION: Shall Mt. Hood Community College replace and expand technology facilities; enhance safety and security; issue bonds totaling $75,000,000? If the bonds are approved, they will be payable from taxes on property or property ownership that are not subject to the limits of section 11 and 11b, Article XI of the Oregon Constitution.FINANCIAL IMPACT: Bonds would be paid off in 21 years or less from the date of issue and may be issued in multiple series. The initial tax rate will be approximately $0.23 per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a home with assessed value of $200,000 would have a tax increase of approximately $46.00 per year. The State will provide an $8 million grant to add to money from the bonds, but only if the College can provide matching funds by passage of this bond. The college has also applied for a State seismic grant to augment the bond proceeds.PROBABLE RESULTS OF A “YES” VOTE: Bonds proceeds would be used to construct, equip and furnish a new Workforce Applied Technology Center (Gresham) and to construct, equip and furnish a new Northeast Portland (Maywood Park) campus building. The bonds would also be used for safety, security and other improvements including lockdown capability and seismic upgrades across the district. Property taxes would increase. PROBABLE RESULTS OF A “NO” VOTE: Property taxes would not increase due to this measure and the College would not receive this funding for new construction or improvements. The College would also not qualify to receive state matching funds, although it could still receive a State seismic grant.BACKGROUND: Mt. Hood Community College is financed by local property tax funds, state reimbursements and student tuition. Local voters established a college tax base in 1968 and approved tax base increases in 1970 and 1980. The last general obligation bond passed by voters was for $6.3 million 43 years ago in 1974, when enrollment had reached nearly 10,000. Current enrollment is over 25,000 on three campuses (the Gresham Campus, the Burning Center for Allied Health, and the Maywood Park Campus). In 2002 a capital operating bond in the amount of $68 million failed. Most money from that bond measure would have funded structural improvements, but the measure included $1.6 million for an allied health center and $27 million for a four-year degree university center. In 2006 a measure also failed, although this measure was smaller, for $58 million. As recommended by an exploratory committee, the bulk of proceeds from this bond would have been used to upgrade existing facilities to current standards. In 2016 voters again failed to authorize a measure. This was for $125 million to construct, equip and furnish both a new Workforce Applied Technology Center and a Maywood Park Campus building and to provide safety, security and other improvements, including seismic upgrades. In 2015, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 447, which provided matching grants to school districts where voters pass general obligation bond measures for capital improvements. The District applied for one of the grants for $8 million and was approved. If this bond measure passes, the District will receive the $8 million in matching funds, which will increase the total money available to the district for facilities improvements to about $83 million. The College has also applied for a State seismic grant which will further increase funds for earthquake safety. SUMMARY OF MEASURE: The primary goals of the measure are to expand technical and trades programs, workforce development and corporate training and to enhance student safety. Money is to be used for: Constructing a Workforce and Applied Technology Center on the Gresham Campus Investing in seismic upgrades and security and safety improvements, including lockdown capability across the district Refinancing existing debt that was incurred for facilities emergencies and improvementsThe bond will be subject to independent auditing by a citizen oversight committee.
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Pros & Cons

SUPPPORTERS SAY:   The college has not passed a general obligation bond since 1974, and desperately needs the funds to ready itself for the next 50 years, as well as to make crucial infrastructure upgrades and repairs.

            Demand for our educational and training programs has grown beyond our physical capacity to accommodate it. The new Workforce and Applied Technology Center will immediately be active in helping provide the training and experience students need to obtain well-paying jobs in a variety of career fields, such as Automotive Tech, Advanced Manufacturing and welding.

Pros & Cons

OPPPONENTS SAY:    This measure will increase property taxes at a time when local school districts have already passed expensive bond measures:  $291.2 million for Gresham-Barlow and $125 million for Reynolds.

            The community college could use its borrowing capacity and state help to fund improvements, as it has done in the past.

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