Thursday night, the McHenry County College Board will consider imposing a $10 per credit hour fee to force students to help pay for new and/or improved facilities.
Here’s what the minutes of the Committee of the Whole meeting say about that:
At the February 17, 2016 Committee of the Whole meeting, the Board of Trustees discussed the recommendation to proceed with the planning and design of a Science Lab and Health Sciences renovation project, pending the ability to raise and have in hand the necessary funds to pay for the project.
During this discussion, the Board also agreed that a student infrastructure fee would be used toward the proposed renovation, again pending the viability of the project.
It was determined that if the College and Friends of MCC Foundation are unable to raise the fundraising goal of $15,000,000.00 by December 31, 2016 (time that documents would go out to bid), the project would not be viable and therefore stopped.
College administration will provide the Board of Trustees a fundraising/capital campaign project plan overview with timeline in March 2016 for review.
I am frustrated that readers cannot figure out who took what position in the debate from these minutes, so I asked Trustee Chris Jenner what happened and here’s what he sent me:
[At the Committee of the Whole meeting] they finally presented us with a proposal I might actually be able to get behind.
- It addresses the stuff I truly feel needs to be fixed — updated biology and health sciences labs.
- No fterendum or tax hike.
- No health club.
- No public – private partnership.
Base cost of the project is $34 million, with interest, a total of $40 million.
It does include new square footage, but not nearly the amounts that have been proposed in the past.
There’s also a fair amount of renovation / re-purposing.
They are banking on $15 – $20 million in Foundation / donor cash, obviously the biggest question mark. They’ve been poking around, and believe they can get it.
The rest of the dough is to come from a $10 per credit hour infrastructure fee to be used to pay off bonds over 20 years. Tuition and fees for the next school year need to be voted on this month, i.e., at the Thursday 2/25 Board of Trustees meeting. They want us to approve the $10 per credit hour fee, with no tuition increase, next Thursday.
I said I could support it under 2 conditions:
1. If the projected donor money doesn’t show up by this time next year, the fee was a one year only thing and it goes away completely.
2. If the project moves forward, whatever fees are in place at the time the bonds are retired (they proposed 20 years) are reduced by the amount of the increase we approve next week.
Jenner added the following:
I can still support an expansion, partially paid for by an infrastructure fee that would be eliminated should the donor funding not materialize, and that would be retired upon retirement of the bonds if the project moves forward.
Upon further study and input from constituents, I think we’re still shooting for too much. I fully support bringing our science labs up to date, and providing much better space for our student veterans.
I’m concerned that the financing plan presented appears to have not considered the increased costs of maintaining the additional space — utilities, cleaning, etc. I’m also not convinced that the amount of additional space proposed is needed now, or at any time within the time frame of the study.
I’d like to know how much the construction and maintenance costs (and the infrastructure fee and needed foundation support) would drop if we were to approve a one story addition built with the ability to add a second story later.