More than 55 percent of voters casting ballots chose not to endorse a $9.85 million bond that would raise necessary funds to build four new buildings and create a variety of new programs at Klamath Community College. The remaining 44 percent voted to approve the bond measure, which would have opened the door for funding for a $19.2 million KCC Vocational Technical Expansion project.
The final tally was 6,693 votes against and 5,313 votes in favor of the bond. KCC President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez, although out of town, awaited results online.
“I’m very disappointed, but we will continue to do the work we started a year ago,” Gutierrez said. “It would have been good to really fast forward some of the things we have in our community that need addressing.”
The bond measure asked voters to approve 14 cents per 1,000 of assessed property value, or $21 a year in property taxes for a home worth $150,000. The $19.2 million project consisted of $7.85 million in funds from the state of Oregon, $1.5 million in KCC funds and the $9.85 million which could have been raised through the passage of the bond.
The project would have funded a KCC Academy, Learning Resource Center and Career Technical Center Addition as well as eight new classrooms and a 120-seat multiuse facility. The proposed LRC would have offered tutoring services, and testing for English as a Second Language (ESL), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), Computer Numerical Control (CNC), Adult Basic Education (ABE) and General Education Development (GED).
Unless the community college can find funding to match the $7.85 million from the state of Oregon, it cannot use the money without the bond.
“Those are off the table right now until we find matching funds,” Gutierrez said. “We won’t be able to do these programs,” he added. “We will continue to work with businesses (and) our K-12 partners.”
“We look forward planning for the future. We will continue to do our best to meet those needs.”
Gutierrez it may take up to seven years to bring together new programs such as those proposed through the bond measure. He plans to continue working with Klamath Falls City School District to emphasize college credits at the high school level.
Gutierrez thanked those who worked to make the bond measure possible as well as the community.
“The community has spoken and we will respect that,” Gutierrez said.
Members of the “Yes KCC Political Action Committee” and Chief Information Officer Ryan Brown met at the Klamath County Government Center to await the results of the votes.
“We’re obviously disappointed in the outcome,” Brown said. “But so much of the work that we were planning to do with the facilities that this bond would have built, it’s so important that we will continue as a college to move forward with that any way that we can with our current facilities. Obviously there will be some limitations due to space and other concerns, but certainly we will continue to service the community as best we can.”
Brown said several factors likely were involved in the results. “It’s tough times for a lot of people in this community and we can’t begrudge folks who didn’t want to see their own property taxes increase,” Brown said. “Things certainly don’t stop because of this setback.”
“Certainly if we would have had more time to speak with more people ... that may have had an impact,” Brown added. “I think the vote is pretty clear.”
PAC member Michael J. Fitzgerald also emphasized the college will continue working toward added improvements.
“It would have been an immediate benefit to the community, and now it’s forestalled,” Fitzgerald said. “We just have to do some recalculating. Instead of taking five of six years for the implement of a lot of the benefits that we would have seen, it’ll take more like 10.”