Southeast Community College has proposed a $369 million bond issue that its president claims can help the two-year school fulfill its mission.
Southeast Community College President Paul Illich says strategic planning in 2014 developed two key issues for southeast Nebraska: the need to provide a qualified workforce in career and technical areas and the need to provide affordable options to higher education.
Illich says the bond issue will help meet that mission.
“This project is about modernizing our facilities,” Illich tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Again, we built the one campus in 1979, but it hasn’t been modernized and the other campuses, we didn’t actually build. They were given to us or we purchased the location.”
Southeast has three campuses: Lincoln, Beatrice, and Milford. It formed in the early ‘70s by combining existing technical institutes with liberal arts colleges. It remains in much the same position as when it formed, according to Illich.
A consulting firm devised a 10-year master plan for the college. One of the keys for the college to fulfill its mission, according to that plan, was to modernize its facilities.
“So this is really about those two issues: providing that qualified workforce and creating that affordable access to higher education,” according to Illich.
The revenue from the bond issue would also pay for construction of permanent learning centers in Falls City, Hebron, Nebraska City, Wahoo, York, and Plattsmouth.
Illich says college officials have attempted to be transparent about the general obligation bond issue even as a group has formed to oppose it. Members of the opposition have gone out of their way to praise the college and base their objection on the property tax increase that would be needed to pay off the bonds.
Illich says community colleges in Nebraska rely on the property tax to make improvements, receiving funding from state aid, tuition, and property taxes.
The estimated tax levy would be 3.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For a home with an assessed valuation of $100,000, the property tax bill would increase by $39 a year.
Voters in 15 southeastern Nebraska counties will decide the issue November 8th.
Click here for more bond issue information from the SCC website.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]