Editorials

Cuesta wise in selecting middle road for bond measure

Terry Reece, director of facility services, planning and capital projects points out the problems with the roof on top of the women's P.E. building at Cuesta College. The Cuesta Board of Trustees will decide on July 9 if they will put a bond on the November ballot for up to $347 million.
Photo by Joe Johnston 07-02-14
Terry Reece, director of facility services, planning and capital projects points out the problems with the roof on top of the women's P.E. building at Cuesta College. The Cuesta Board of Trustees will decide on July 9 if they will put a bond on the November ballot for up to $347 million. Photo by Joe Johnston 07-02-14 jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Cuesta College trustees were wise to choose the middle-of-the-road option — $275 million — when they voted to put a bond measure on the November ballot.

The Board of Trustees had considered amounts as low as $84 million and as high as $343 million.

The low-end option would only cover the cost of replacing 18 modular buildings that no longer meet state architectural standards. It would provide nothing for repairs and technology upgrades that are critically needed.

The costliest option, on the other hand, would include funding for construction of labs for the nursing and paramedics programs, as well as for a permanent South County campus.

While the labs would be welcome additions, we believe it would be asking a lot of voters to approve that funding right now, especially with so many other local tax measures on the ballot.

The $275 million bond, which will cost property owners $19.45 per $100,000 of assessed value if approved, will provide funding for several high-priority projects. In addition to replacing modular buildings, the bond will finance:

Repairs to buildings that are more than 40 years old. Wiring and plumbing, roofs, and heating and air conditioning systems are deteriorating and, in some cases, failing.

A major technology upgrade to improve computer access.

Retiring some existing debt, which costs $1.6 million in annual debt service.

Constructing a new trades and technology building on the North County campus.

To pass, the measure will need at least 55 percent approval from voters throughout San Luis Obispo County and southern Monterey County, which is also in the Cuesta district.

In a recent survey of 603 voters, 65 percent indicated they would likely support the measure.

That’s encouraging, but a favorable survey months before an election is no guarantee of passage.

Remember, too, that the November ballot will be crowded with tax measures, including sales taxes in Atascadero, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo; a bond measure to fund road repairs in Grover Beach; and school bonds in the San Luis Coastal and Atascadero districts.

It’s entirely possible that all these measures will pass, but backers of the various measures are going to have to work hard to get their messages across to voters.

Cuesta College may have the toughest assignment because it must reach voters throughout the county.

We believe, though, that it can provide strong justification for every item on its list. We strongly urge supporters of the Cuesta College bond to share that information with voters in the weeks ahead.

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