Yuba Community College District has been impacted by the housing bust of 2008 in more than one way. Not only has the budget been reduced, impacting classes throughout the District, but so has the funding for Measure J.
According to the YCCD Measure J website, 56.61% of all residents within the district agreed to pass Measure J in November 2006. This is a $190 million bond that is to go towards renovating and improving the YCCD campuses. These bonds were to be repaid by YCCD with a 1.6% tax on all taxable properties within the District that it controls.
A great idea at the time, residents within the YCCD boundaries would have their community colleges rebuilt for a small amount of money from their own pockets each year. Except, nobody could predict that the home prices would plummet and continue to do so long after the initial bust only two short years after the measure would pass.
This is where the problem lies. Home prices have plummeted reducing the amount of taxes that YCCD can collect. According to Citydata.com, in 2006 the average home price in Yuba County was $275,000 but today it has been reduced to less than $150,00. This means that on average the YCCD would receive $40 per home in 2006 while today that same home is only allowing $24 to go towards the Measure J bonds.
Sadly this puts YCCD in a position where they cannot sell the entire $95 million worth of bonds that were scheduled to be sold in 2011. Since the housing market has only dropped further, YCCD would not be able to pay the principal and interest on the bonds if they were to release the remaining. According to the presentation from the Districts financial consultants, Capital PFG, it is recommended that the District only release $31 million in bonds instead of the initially planned $95 million.
YCCD did reduce the amount of bonds to be sold to $34 million but that means remaining bonds will be sold at a later date, postponing some planned projects to a later date as well.
So what does this do to the planned renovations and construction? What has changed and what is still going forward?
The good news is that the library renovations at the Marysville campus will not yet be affected by the changes to Measure J and are still on track to be finished during the Spring 2013 semester. This money has already been approved and set aside by YCCD to begin the renovations.
The only way that the library will be affected by the renovations is if the contractor runs into unforeseen problems that are common to a sixty year old building that has five additions. These problems can be lead paint, asbestos, and unknown structural issues. This can either change the reopening of the library, affect the funding or do both.
To combat these possible issues the contractor makes a pre-construction agreement before giving a number on the renovation’s cost. These pre-construction agreements consist of inspecting the integrity of the building, from the attics and crawl spaces to the walls interior and foundation issues.
Elena Heilman, Yuba College Librarian, says the library is part of special funding from the State of California where the State matches the amount of money allocated for the library’s renovation from Measure J bonds. Allowing for a high quality and up to date library for the Yuba College campus that will feature coffee service, four private rooms for group study, and comfortable seating in the front lobby, creating ample opportunities for students to study.
Now the bad news. Because of the limited funds YCCD has been forced to deal with there have been quite a few projects postponed or reduced. These projects will be completed fully at a later date when the next series of bonds are finally released to the market. When that will be, nobody knows but because of the way Measure J was written, the money that was slated to be used on particular projects must still go to those projects.
The list of scaled down or postponed projects within YCCD affect every campus within the district, even those campuses not completed. At Yuba College the list begins with of Osuna Hall, or the old dorms, which were to be demolished but will be left standing for now. Warren Hall, or the police station, and the 100A ,100B, 500, and 700 buildings, have also been put on hold.
Both the 100A and 100B buildings are planned to eventually be transformed into student services buildings that would have housed departments such as the Disabled Students Programs and Services or DSPS, CalWorks, and financial aid as well as the other departments currently operating within the building..
What changed the plans for that transition was the decision to not move YCCD Administration personnel to the planned Sutter site located in north Yuba City. Changes planned for the proposed campus are the size of the initial building which will be reduced to almost half. The half that was to house the district’s administration.
With all of this bad there are quite a few good things happening for YCCD and its buildings. The City of Colusa has donated $600,000 to YCCD helping the project move forward. While the solar project at Yuba College has been going forward, preparing future students now for what is thought to be the future in green technology. Giving different areas of study the opportunity to study solar panels and how they operate with actual hands on experience. In ten years it is planned that the panels will repay the district $1.5 million in savings, not to mention the educational benefits they provide.
Even with a lack of money, YCCD is being creative in acquiring finances, needed space and equipment. At the Clear Lake campus they may be able to offer automotive technical courses because of an agreement to use the nearby K-12 school shop and equipment for free. At Yuba College there have been deals made to borrow equipment from the local municipalities. The large electronic sign that was used for two weeks warning students when ticketing would begin, was loaned by the Marysville Police Department.
What the future holds for YCCD nobody knows. Nobody knows if the market will ever come back or when it will allow the district to release the next series of bonds. Hopefully things change for the better soon and we can continue the Measure J projects that we have planned. Only the markets and time will tell.