Critique of MCC Health Sciences-Fitness Center Finds Flaws, Suit Threatened

A statement for the McHenry County College Board from Stephen Willson is found below.  Willson is the man who punched holes big enough to drive a bulldozer through the billion dollar (with interest) proposal to completely revamp the MCC campus over the next forty years.

McHenry County College now has two places to train culinary workers–the Woodstock North High School culinary facility and its own in Crystal Lake.

He pointed out that there are fewer third graders in McHenry County schools than seniors, which means the 3% annual growth rate assumed by college officials was apparently picked out of thin air.

Now Willson analyses the plan to build was appears to be mainly a nursing training facility, plus occupational, physical and respiratory therapy,  And, oh, yes.  Twenty-eight percent of the building will be for a fitness center to compete with private enterprise.

Remarks concerning the MCC Health Sciences Facility

Northwest Herald, October 17, 2012, “MCC envisions partners for health sciences facility”

“McHenry County College is looking to expand its health and wellness programs with a $42 million building and is looking to private-sector partners to help pay for it.”

The college’s board of trustees will vote on a second-phase feasibility study Oct. 25. The study, if approved, will examine whether a public-private partnership will work to create a health sciences facility. It will look into possible sites for a building and identify potential financial partners and funding sources.

College officials maintain that a public-private partnership – specifically partnerships with those in the health care field – would pay for the project without going to voters or raising tuition.

“I’m not saying we would never, but none of the discussions this far have addressed [a tuition increase], as well as a referendum,” said Laura Brown, the college’s vice president of institutional advancement. “We are not going to a referendum.”

“Any private entity has to augment or supplement our educational focus,” Brown said.

For the college’s share of the partnership, it could leverage debt or employ alternative revenue bonds to be repaid with revenues generated by the project – namely from tuition from an estimated 1,400 new students and 25,000 incremental credit hours each year.

Additionally, students taking health sciences programs likely would see additional classroom fees.

A phase one study concluded that expanding those programs – specifically occupational, physical and respiratory therapy, and other health and wellness curriculum – would require a 120,000-square-foot building, 67 percent of which would be used for classroom spaces and 28 percent for a fitness center.

If the board approves the phase two study, it will hire Addison-based firm Power Wellness for $50,000. The board asked Power Wellness also to explore existing buildings and facilities in the county as potential sites for the expansion.

Fact 1.  There is no demand for a program of this size.

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that there are approximately 350 job openings annually in the “health care and social assistance” sector in McHenry County.

This includes jobs that require an advance degree, such as doctors and registered nurses, and jobs that do not require any degree, and jobs in the “social assistance” subsector.

So the annual number of job openings in the health care field in McHenry County that will require a two-year degree is probably half of this, or about 175.

As it is possible to obtain a two-year degree at other institutions in the area and as the job force is fairly mobile, the number of annual job openings available to graduates of the proposed program is probably no more than 100.

Yet MCC projects that they will have 1,400 students in this program, or 700 graduating per year.

If they are correct, then this program is a cruel hoax on the students who enroll expecting to be able to find jobs in health care in McHenry County, as only perhaps one in seven will find a job.

Fact 2. The program cannot be self-supporting.

Assume the College is correct and the program generates 25,000 incremental credit hours. At the current tuition rate of $90 per credit hour, the gross annual revenue would be $2.25 million.

But the annual mortgage payment on a $42 million is $2.7 million or 120% of the projected tuition. This is before one teacher is hired or the electric bill is paid.

MCC, like most schools, spends about 67% of its budget on personnel and less than 10% on mortgage payments. Thus, less than 20% of tuition money, or perhaps $450,000, would be available to pay the $2.7 million mortgage payment.

Fact 3.  28% of the building is for a health club.

There are more than 20 health clubs in McHenry County now. It does not make sense for MCC to build yet another taxpayer subsidized competitor for local private businesses.

Fact 4.  $42 million divided by 120,000 square feet is $350 per square foot.

This makes MCC twice as fiscally responsible as the Crystal Lake Library, but this is still more than three times the going rate for finished commercial space.

Fact 5. MCC plans to use “alternate revenue bonds” in order to avoid a referendum.

This law was written so that municipalities could obtain lower interest rates on borrowings for utilities with proven track records, such as water and sewer systems, NOT speculative projects such as this.

I know because I was on the advisory committee that helped to write this legislation.

If MCC seeks to use a loophole to do an end run around the voters and burden the taxpayers, I personally will lead the effort to put the bond issue on the ballot.

Further, I will personally fund a class action suit on behalf of the taxpayers alleging fraud in the issuance of such bonds because there is no institution, no corporation, that will be willing to enter into a 30 year contract to guarantee revenues sufficient to pay for this building.

I will sue MCC’s attorney if he issues an opinion that such bonds are legally issued.

I will sue bond counsel for concurring in such an opinion.

I will sue the financial advisor, the feasibility consultant, and the underwriter.

So, in conclusion, I urge the Board NOT to waste more taxpayer money by giving $50,000 to yet another consultant who is hired to deliver

  • a pre-determined,
  • made-as-instructed,

endorsement of this speculative white elephant.


Critique of MCC Health Sciences-Fitness Center Finds Flaws, Suit Threatened — 2 Comments

  1. Just how many people who have resided on the MCC Board of Trustees now hold or are running for a different office?


    If anyone has names, that would be helpful.

  2. I think we need a couple more people like Mr. Stephen Willson who have the knowledge and expertise to pick apart some of the garbage other school districts and units of government state wide strew around and attempt to jam down our throats.

    The tide must be turned before us taxpayer run out of money and are run out of out homes.

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