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CCC bond measure will generate greater prosperity for county

Voters who live within the Clackamas Community College district have a chance next week to modernize the college’s facilities, while also holding their tax rate in check. A proposed bond measure appearing on the Nov. 4 ballot is a good deal for taxpayers — and it also will pay large dividends for the local economy.

The 48-year-old community college is an irreplaceable asset for the communities it serves within Clackamas County. It provides affordable post-secondary education for students out of high school, and it is a job-training machine for people who want to improve their skills and launch or advance their careers.

The college is proposing a $90 million bond measure — appearing as Ballot Measure 3-447 — that will pay for a number of physical improvements. The best news for taxpayers is that these new bonds will be sold as older college bonds are retired. The goal will be to keep the college bond-related tax rate the same, thereby allowing the college to invest in its buildings without placing an additional burden on property taxpayers.

At present, property owners pay about 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for college bonds. That equates to $3.17 per month for the owner of a home assessed for tax purposes at $200,000.

If voters agree to continue this modest monthly payment, the college can match those dollars with $16 million in state funding and move forward with a number of important projects, including:

n Constructing a new 53,000-square-foot Industrial Technical Center that would dramatically upgrade and replace the college’s facilities for automotive, manufacturing, welding and renewable energy sciences.

n Adding science classrooms and modernizing, renovating and furnishing other college classrooms and facilities. This would include updating equipment and technology, especially for training in high-demand careers, including health care and engineering.

n Replacing worn-out electrical, heating, ventilation and plumbing systems; doing deferred maintenance to reduce operating costs and/or extend the life of college facilities; and making improvements to address seismic and security concerns.

n Constructing a new workforce development facility, replacing the 61-year-old building on the Harmony Community Campus.

n Replacing the student services center on the Oregon City campus with an expanded facility to meet student needs.

Though the bond is only $90 million from taxpayers, it includes two $8 million state matching grants and $5 million from a booster club. This $111 million plan from the college comes three years after voters defeated a more ambitious college proposal. Rather than go right back to voters with another ballot request, college officials decided to find out exactly what the public wants from CCC. They spent two years in an information-gathering project called Imagine Clackamas.

More than 1,500 people responded to an online survey; 750 high school students and others participated in face-to-face surveys; and more than 100 business professionals took part in focus groups.

The result is a bond plan that is informed by the community and also takes what taxpayers can afford fully into account. The proposal enjoys remarkably broad support from business people and political leaders, including an endorsement from the often-divided Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

Approval of this bond measure will allow Clackamas Community College to fulfill community members’ expectations while honoring their financial constraints. We recommend a “yes” vote on Ballot Measure 3-447 — a measure that will lead to greater prosperity for Clackamas County.

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