College board delays bond vote to 2004

Failure of a key state senate bill in the latest legislature is delaying plans for a bond measure at Columbia Gorge Community College, where directors Tuesday night agreed to place the measure before voters in November 2004 — a year later than they originally planned.

Senate Bill 720 would have created a statewide fund for capital construction at Oregon’s 17 community colleges, which would have been responsible for matching any monies they obtained.

But the measure faltered as legislators struggled to trim agency budgets in the wake of Oregon’s financial crisis, and a last-ditch attempt by community college presidents to resurrect the bill, which failed on the last day of the session.

That eliminated funds Columbia Gorge Community College directors had counted on in proposing a bond measure to voters this fall.

Proceeds, matched by the state fund, would have been used to build college classrooms in Hood River and overhaul The Dalles campus, where buildings are deteriorating to the point that one facility — the skills center — was closed outright last January.

As of yet, there is no firm amount for the November 2004 bond, since this will depend in part on other fundraising initiatives by the college, which is now looking toward potential federal sources of financial assistance, as well as a new assessment of priorities.

“This is to say, OK, no more sliding,” college president Dr. Frank Toda told his board Tuesday night, announcing a formal timeline for the Nov. 4, 2004, measure. That’s a general election date, where a “double majority” will not be required for bond passage.

The timeline adopted Tuesday night includes review of priorities at a work session this coming November, together with an update on current facilities status. The bond amount will be determined this December and reviewed next June, and a public survey will be conducted in January.

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