Comunity should embrace new tax, bond
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 16:05
Contra Costa County voters can keep the “community” in their community colleges.
The district is surveying the idea of placing a $250 million bond and an $11 parcel tax on November’s ballot.
While lawmakers in Sacramento make cuts for the fifth straight year in 2012-13, they continue to draw out the life and passion that defines community colleges, especially Contra Costa College.
Student services staff is cut and hours reduced. Lifelong learning courses are eliminated for having low retention rates. Vocational training programs are cut for having inefficient faculty-student ratios.
But these are roles crucial to our college’s mission.
If the measures go on the ballot, voters, especially in West County, need to support these local proposals to keep higher education a county priority.
Research will show how residents feel about either proposition, as the district will have numbers by the end of the day to gauge voter tastes.
Bonds have historically passed in West County. This would be the first parcel tax for the district, however.
The bond, which needs a majority vote and is based on assessed property value, would fund renovations, retrofitting and upgrades to buildings and facilities across the Contra Costa Community College District.
The state allocates no money for facilities upgrades. Two bonds worth $300 million combined have been passed since 2002. The money for the 2002 Measure A bond, $120 million, is gone — the last of it is going toward retrofitting the Music Building.
One-third of the $280 million Measure A+ bond, approved in 2006, has been spent and the rest will be used in coming years to finish other facilities upgrades across the district.
The parcel tax, however, is a flat $11 per year rate on plots of land in the county.
The tax, depending on the poll’s results, could last five to six years and generate up to $3 to 4 million additional revenue toward the colleges’ operating budgets annually.
CCC received $25 million from the state this year based on the Full-Time Equivalent Student model, which determines funding — one FTES equals one student taking 12 units.
But when the state is limiting the funding available to colleges and telling them to serve fewer students from one year to the next, the community needs to say no.
If county voters pass the parcel tax, it would help save programs and sections.
If we aren’t willing to pay for our own education, we can’t expect to be saved by anyone else.