It’s on, again: Mt. Hood will place a $75 million general obligation bond measure before MHCC District voters on the May 16 Special Election ballot.
On Wednesday, the Mt. Hood Board of Education agreed to move forward with a downsized bond proposal, one year after voters rejected a $125 million GO bond measure by a 55-to-45 percent count.
The vote was five members in support of the bond with only Tammie Arnold against it. At-large board member Michael Calcagno did not attend the meeting.
“I think it is critical that we have a bond so we can pay off our debt and erase that ($)2 million-a-year payment,” said Susie Jones, the Board chair. “I (also) say that it is the moral responsibility of this board to provide a reasonably safe environment on our campuses for our students and staff and community, and I think that MHCC has not kept up with safety standards and needs.”
Passing up the next available opportunity to “protect against harm” would be equally irresponsible, Jones said. “We can’t wait for the next wave of campus shootings to address our safety needs,” she said.
However, Arnold opposed the new bond effort, saying it comes too soon after the last attempt.
“I would rather put my time and energy into something that I know we would have a really good shot at. I don’t think we have a good shot at May,” Arnold said. “I don’t think we’ve built enough momentum… we don’t have the strategy, we don’t have the plan, we don’t have the finances, and we sure don’t have the time and energy for passing it.”
Also on the May 16 ballot will be three of the Mt. Hood board positions. They include Zones 1 (currently held by Jones), 2 (held by Jim Zordich) and 4 (held by Sonny Yellott).
Already this week, two new candidates have filed paperwork for the contest.
Diane McKeel, recently retired Multnomah County commissioner, has filed for the Zone 1 seat. Annette Mattson, government affairs/public policy specialist for Portland General Election, has filed for the Zone 4 position.
Also discussed during the board meeting – picking up for meetings canceled by poor weather in each of the past two months – were planning for MHCC’s 2017-18 operating budget and a prime slot in a new Rockwood community hub.
MHCC’s financial officer Jennifer DeMent presented a budget planning overview. “This year, we don’t anticipate allocating any additional general fund dollars” from the Oregon Legislature, she said. While no across-the-board budget reductions are expected, another $2 per credit tuition increase could be likely, she said.
Meantime, Mt. Hood plans to get classroom space in a “Rockwood Rising” office building planned to be built in Rockwood. The classrooms will house entrepreneurship and business courses.