More bonds for your consideration this fall.
Houston Community College trustees voted Thursday to placea $425 million bond referendum on the November ballot.
If approved by voters on Nov. 6, the bond would help update classroom technology, build a new medical center facility, expand campuses and boost workforce development programs. It would also phase in a 2 cent to 3 cent property tax increase. The former translates to about $37 annually for the owner of a $150,000 house.
The bonds are needed to cope with enrollment that has jumped from 50,000 to 75,000 in the last five years, leaving the system “bursting at the seams,” said HCC trustee Richard Schechter.
There would be funds allocated to build a new health care education center in the Medical Center, plus renovations and new construction at all six HCC campuses, with an emphasis on workforce development in energy and the STEM fields. Typically, this has had a much lower profile than the other referenda, but that doesn’t mean it has been without contention.
The proposed allocation for westside construction does not sit well with some groups in Alief, which was annexed by HCC’s taxing district four years ago.
The Alief ISD board of trustees and the Alief Super Neighborhood Council passed resolutions opposing the bond proposal, saying HCC has failed to complete projects promised under the annexation agreement. The groups said the $10 million allocated for the Alief campus in the bond proposal is insufficient.
Only one floor of a four-story Hayes Road building on the Alief campus has been completed. That building, which is used by the Alief ISD Early College High School, also lacks a library and science labs, according to Sarah Winkler, an Alief school trustee.
“I don’t see how that (the westside campus) should be a priority compared to existing facilities that should be finished,” said Winkler, who noted that the first Early College class may graduate next year without having had access to a library or science labs. “We’ve never had campuses without a library. That’s just not acceptable to me.”
The lack of services and classes on the Alief campus forces many area residents enrolled at HCC to travel to other campuses for classes, Winkler said.
The first story above notes that the board “pledged to use the bond money first to complete construction of the Hayes Road building”, which is a new campus in Alief. Not clear whether that addressed the concerns or not, however. See here and here for more.