MCC Plans to Sell $42 Million in Non-Referendum Bonds – Part 2

This is Part 2 of Stephen Willson’s biting critique of the McHenry County College Board’s decision-making process that consultants hope will lead to the issuance of $42 million in bonds without a public vote. Interspersed among his comments are the essential slides presented before Board members decided to approve Phase Two at the cost of $50,000.  The images are what the Board saw before deciding to move ahead on what is called “a public-private partnership.”

Here’s what was found in Phase One. Note the consultants stress that $42 million can be borrowed without holding a voter referendum. On campus students are estimated at 7,500, faculty & staff at 900 and
“community households” at 1,600. They are estimated to provide 4,100 “active users.”

The slide show provides

  • no information on whether current facilities are sufficient to meet student demand,
  • no evidence that there is substantial unmet demand by students for the proposed classes,
  • no evidence of sufficient demand by employers for graduates of the proposed programs,
  • no justification for building a government operated health club,
  • no discussion of competing health clubs or health classes,
  • no explanation of a competitive advantage for the proposed health club or evidence to support projected membership.

These are the new credit hours that are projected by the consultants.

Paying Power Wellness and Wight $50,000 to tell MCC whether or not to build a big new health club makes as much sense as paying the local Ford dealer $50,000 to advise you what new cars you need.

The $42 million would buy space for these purposes.

You know the answer you’re going to get!

Here’s how MCC staff and consultants allocated the extra 80,000 square feet of space for the Health Science construction.

Sadly, a consultant was never even needed.

This is the “preliminary business plan” for the $42 million proposal, which, according to the asterisk, is really more than $44 million.

First, the questions that should have been asked and answered don’t take a rocket scientist!

More tomorrow.  (The College Board will meet tomorrow night. One item of discussion will be this $42 million project.)

Part 1 is here.

Part 3 is here.


MCC Plans to Sell $42 Million in Non-Referendum Bonds – Part 2 — 8 Comments

  1. In the last slide, the Preliminary Business Plan, what is the LEED Premium?

    The cost to receive LEED certification…meaning the cost for a piece of paper?

    Do the “Viable funding options without referendum” include either upfront taxpayer funding, or funding backed (guaranteed) by taxpayers?

    Funding backed by taxpayers prompts the thought of the failed the baseball stadium…was that funding backed taxpayers, meaning the taxpayers were on the hook if the project went south?

    Do many or most of these “public private partnerships” involve public backing of private financing?

  2. Mark, the “funding option without referendum” is the same kind of financing Lakewood used for its infamous golf course.

    They are know as “alternate revenue bonds.”

    The college will hire a “consultant” (guess who!) who will opine the project is likely to be self-supporting and then issue bonds backed by property taxes without a referendum.

    When the project turns out NOT to be self-supporting (like Lakewood’s golf course), the taxpayers will be on the hook.

  3. Is there ever a reason in the public interest to issue bonds backed by taxes without a referendum?

    It should not be legal to approve bonds backed by taxes without a referendum to build community college buildings, golf courses, baseball stadiums, or anything else.+

    “Public private partnerships” doesn’t convey the message “non referendum bonds backed by taxpayers.”

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