Santa Rosa Junior College trustees move closer to putting bond on ballot

  • 2/20/2008: B1: Analy Hall on the Santa Rosa Junior College's main campus was one of several buildings in Santa Rosa built under the New Deal during the Depression. Others at school include the Luther Burbank Theater and Jesse Peters Museum.
    PC: Analy Hall on the Santa Rosa Junior College's main campus is a New Deal project. February 12, 2008. The Press Democrat / Jeff Kan Lee

Buoyed by strong voter survey results, Santa Rosa Junior College officials are pressing forward with plans to put a $410 million general obligation bond on the November ballot.

In a presentation at the college trustees' regular meeting Tuesday, board members were briefed on favorable voter response to a poll about a potential $410 million bond to support facility and technology upgrades at both the Santa Rosa and Petaluma campuses.

The proposal comes as funds from a bond approved more than a decade ago are running out.

Voters in 2002 approved a $251 million bond that paid for a four-story library and media center, a new parking facility, a culinary arts center and an expansion of the Petaluma campus, among other projects.

But President Frank Chong said classrooms, labs and technology — especially in science and math — are outdated, uncomfortable and in need of either demolition or complete upgrade.

"The front side of the campus — you guys clearly did it right," he said of the public upgrades to the Santa Rosa campus's Mendocino Avenue side. The western side of campus has been neglected, he said.

"I see it as a tale of two campuses," he said.

The board is expected to be presented with a more detailed plan of how to proceed at a future meeting, but Chong expressed confidence that voter support of the school and its programs would carry any ballot measure beyond the 55percent threshold needed for passage.

If the board approves a $410 million package and it is eventually approved by voters, the average cost per taxpayer would be $69 annually, according to Doug Roberts, vice president of business services for the college.

There is about $175 million in principal remaining to paid off from Measure A passed by voters 12 years ago. The current debt to property owners is about $21 on every $100,000 in assessed value. It is expected to be paid off by 2029.

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