As the Yuba Community College District nears its 80th year serving the community, students and faculty alike have noticed the growing need for maintenance and renovation on its campuses. With a list of growing needs, on June 14 the Yuba Community College District Board unanimously passed a resolution to attach a $190 million bond measure on the November ballot in all counties lying within the Yuba voting district.
If the 55 percent majority requisite to pass the bond is acquired, the money generated from bond Measure J will be channeled into campus infrastructure repair, improved student service programs, technological upgrades and classroom facilities expansion for each campus.
The June YCCD Board resolution followed a community opinion poll conducted by The Center for Community Opinion, part of a study that would ultimately conclude the feasibility of the bond measure’s placement on the November ballot. The survey also determined how much money the bond should request and which projects would serve to benefit the community most.
According to YCCD Chancellor Dr. Nikki Harrington, the allocation of the money is contingent on need. “We looked at everybody’s needs,” Harrington said, “put a price tag on it, and will distribute the money to those cites that need it.”
On September 12, a group of 25 people, composed of students, staff, faculty and interested community members, congregated on campus for a Yes on Measure J meeting during which the bond campaign was presented by Yuba College President Paul Mendoza and Public Finance Strategies Consultant Joe Cruz.
The influx of Measure J’s revenue will be concentrated primarily in Yuba, Yolo, Lake, Sutter and Colusa counties. Such refurbishment includes, but is not limited to, building repairs, a new Health Facility and extensive classroom upgrades and additions for the Marysville Campus; a new auditorium facility and the ushering in of more instructors for the Woodland Campus; a permanent facility and expansion of the Food Service Management & Culinary Arts program for the Clear Lake Campus; a new educational outreach facility, providing more General Education coursework, for a new Sutter Campus; and both an education outreach and Early Childhood Education program for the Colusa Campus.
The $190 million YCCD is looking to reap to finance its renovation plans calls for tapping into its most valuable and available resource: the community. Taxpayers will pick up the tab, and their contributions will be gauged according to their assessed property value, roughly amounting $16 per $100,000. Census data shows that the median assessed value of single-family homes and condominiums in YCCD is $119,685, assessed valuations from fiscal year 2004-2005.
At the helm of the Measure J campaign are Harrington and Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services, Dr. Willard Wright. In the campaign’s formative phase, the Friends of YCCD committee was assembled, a steering committee headed by Cruz and Campaign Consultant Barry Barnes.
The committee is amidst its fundraising period and has already pooled $10,000 from key donors at the YCCD foundation. The course the committee has plotted for the next couple of months includes door-to-door canvassing of printed advocacy materials such as brochures and flyers, and committee members will operate phone banks provided by local businesses to inform area residents of the urgency of the Bond and its appearance on the November ballot.
Any brow-furrowing skeptics of Measure J’s incentive can rest assured that all spending will be neither unchecked nor unmonitored. Spearheading the checks and balances of Measure J monies is the Citizens Oversight Committee. Additionally, annual tax audits will ensure that the money is being both spent and allocated according to plan.
Harrington shared her rosy outlook for November’s election with more than a few students, faculty and community members. “Oh, absolutely the bond will pass,” she said. “I think we have a very well-developed master plan, and the faculty, students and staff have been working very hard.”
Long-time Board of Trustees member George Nicholau shares Harrington’s optimism. “If we sell the positive things that this bond will do for our community, it will pass,” he said.