Our region's taxpayers have an opportunity over the next month to support a project that will positively impact the area for decades to come.
Voting "yes" for the Indian Hills Community College referendum will raise your property taxes. But it's a vote you should make.
The referendum asks for $28 million, but the taxation to pay for the project is spread across the college's 10 counties. We're talking a yearly increase equivalent to a Starbucks coffee, or maybe a couple Casey's pizzas, for most of our area residents.
This is a vote that directly impacts the education of our students, both in high school and those pursuing a college degree. This is a vote that directly impacts our local economy by helping grow a skilled workforce locally.
Your yes vote unlocks so much potential.
Highlighting the proposal is a new Centerville campus, replacing temporary buildings that served their purpose three decades ago. The new campus will give the community something it can be proud of, creating a more efficient campus that will serve students and the community better. It keeps things like the iconic Barn and allows the college to expand its service offering to continue enrollment growth momentum.
The proposal also includes significant improvements to the Ottumwa campus, including an update and expansion to the Fine Arts Center, establishing the Criminal Justice Training Center, and expanding the Student Wellness Center.
One thing that makes this proposal truly unique, however, is that it reaches into every high school within Indian Hills' 10-county service area. The bond referendum allocates funds to build virtual classrooms in each high school, provided there's available space. This will bring more college-level curriculum to more students who take the courses without charge to accelerate toward a degree.
When people talk about the need for economic development, this is what that truly looks like. This referendum places our slice of southeastern Iowa at an advantage as cities and counties work to attract more businesses and higher-paying jobs. Those companies look at a variety of aspects, including the quality of our workforce. Indian Hills Community College is a strong economic partner and has over the years no doubt been a contributing factor in attracting the companies we already have.
Our readers with good memories may think back to the college's last vote in 2016. Those readers would recall this page did not endorse that project. Back then, we had concerns over how the college went about selling the project. We didn't think they did near enough, and while we viewed those updates and changes were needed, we didn't endorse the project.
That editorial didn't sit well with many at IHCC, but it's clear they weren't going to give us reason to take that stance again.
This time, college leadership did their work. Any constituent that doesn’t know about this proposal only has themselves to blame. The college for months has marketed this project, including mailing pamphlets to constituents on top of community forums, social media posts, multiple media interviews, and an open line reaching up to the college president to pose questions or get information.
This project is worthy of your support on Nov. 2.