OTTUMWA — Indian Hills Community College President Matt Thompson and his staff did the legwork for months in preparation for Nov. 2.

And it'll all come down to whether residents in the college's 10-county region approve a bond referendum including improvements that will not only last for decades, but, for many property owners, cost less per year in a tax increase than a combo meal at McDonald's.

Indeed, the college worked the donor and grant network for months to lop off about $6 million from an originally proposed $34 million series of projects that would essentially build an entirely new Centerville campus and enrich already-existing parts of the Ottumwa campus.

What is it going to cost the taxpayer?

Residents have questioned for months what the tax impact would be on their properties over the 20-year referendum, and it goes something like this:


• For property assessed at $10,000, the estimated increase per year will be $1.15 per year

• For property worth $35,000 ($4.03)

• For property worth $50,000 ($5.76)

• For property worth $75,000 ($8.64)

• For property worth $100,000 ($11.52)

• For property worth $150,000 ($17.28)

• For property worth $200,000 ($23.04)


• For property worth $25,000, the increase is $4.71

• For property worth $75,000 ($14.12)

• For property worth $150,000 ($28.24)

• For property worth $250,000 ($47.07)

• For property worth $500,000 ($94.14)

• For property worth $1 million ($188.27).

Also, the average rate increase on agricultural land in the 10-county area is a modest $0.15 per acre.

What's included in the bond referendum?

Most of the current Centerville campus will be almost unrecognizable, but in a way college officials said is positive and much-needed.

The rebuild of the educational part of campus will take part in two phases and replace existing temporary buildings that were built in 1971 but are still in use. In all, there will be 58,500 square feet of new construction.

The first phase will include a new Centerville Educational Building, which will increase lab space for industrial technology, construction technology and agricultural sciences. It will also create new lab space for welding technology and career and technical education simulation

Also in the phase will be an update of classroom and lab space for nursing, science and general education, as well as capacity and efficiency improvements in food service, library and academic support services.

On the Ottumwa campus, the referendum includes three parts, affecting three different areas of the campus.

The Center for Fine Arts will feature almost 14,000 square feet of renovation or new construction, with updates and soundproofing of the choir and band classroom, acting and film classroom and piano lab and lesson classroom. There will also be updates to amenities such as public restrooms, the campus arrival area and an expansion of student services offerings. Also, dressing rooms will be established, as will individual and small group practice rooms and restrooms and showers for performers.

There will also be a Student Wellness Center built onto the Tom Arnold Net Center, adding just over 17,000 square feet of new construction. In that center will be a weight and cardio area, fitness classroom, classroom and lab for the sports medicine program, a multi-purpose court for student activities and events, an elevator to improve building accessibility, as well as public restrooms and locker rooms.

On the North Campus, the Criminal Justice Training Center will be overhauled with more than 10,000 square feet of renovated space. The criminal justice program will be relocated to the campus, and space will be renovated to accommodate a multi-purpose training room, evidence lab, a virtual reality training simulator, four classrooms and locker room facilities.

Anything else?


The referendum also will include outreach to every high school in the college's region by establishing virtual classrooms. The classrooms will offer expanded concurrent-enrollment course offerings, decrease connectivity issues students may encounter with the internet, increase continuing education offerings throughout the region and provide technology and equipment to meet industry and educational needs in each district.

What's in it for the voters?

Indian Hills estimates that 86% of its graduates remain in the 10-county region, so local businesses are able to hire local graduates. The college also adds more than $230 million to the regional economy annually. Indian Hills has reported a 3.2% increase in enrollment this year, one of only three community colleges in the state to see an increase.

How does it pass?

Because it is a bond referendum, it will require 60% approval from voters in the 17 counties, as the college's boundaries seep into counties not considered in the "region." The college tried to pass a referendum in 2016 but it failed, and the school hasn't seen approval on a referendum since 1983.

— Chad Drury can be reached at, and on Twitter @ChadDrury


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