Iowa Central Community College: An eye towards the future

College president: Iowa Central referendum is a vote on the area’s future

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa Central Community College Robotics Coordinator Thad Cooper makes an adjustment to one of the machines in the lab. The program and its equipment is crammed into a small area.

A $25.5 million general obligation bond issue proposed by Iowa Central Community College is about much more than dollars and cents, according to Dan Kinney, the school’s president.

The bond issue, he said, is really about keeping young families in the area.

”To invest in our communities and have them keep growing, we need to invest in education,” Kinney said.

He said about 70 percent of jobs in rural America require a two-year degree or certificate training program. Iowa Central Community College provides that kind of education, he added.

To ensure it can keep doing so, Kinney and the rest of the college’s leadership are asking the voters on Feb. 6 to approve a bond issue that will cost the average homeowner an additional $1 a month on their property taxes.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa Central Community College Auditorium Manager and Technical Theater Scott Deuel works on constructing sets in the stage wings. The workshop, at left, is too small to build most sets and has little overhead door clearance.

That’s a bargain, he said.

”What can you buy in a convenience store for $1?” he asked.

Approval of the bond issue during the Feb. 6 referendum will enable the college to build a new student success center on the Fort Dodge campus, do a variety of needed updates on 50-year-old buildings, construct a new biofuels testing lab, and install safety and security features.

”We’re at a critical time for getting some of these things fixed and worked on,” Kinney said.

The bond issue will be on the ballot in each of the nine counties that make up Iowa Central’s service area. Those counties are Buena Vista, Calhoun, Greene, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Sac, Webster and Wright.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa Central Community College students work on physics problems in a third floor classroom in the science building under ceiling panels missing after they were damaged by water leaking through the roof.

To pass, the bond issue must be approved by 60 percent of the people who cast ballots.

A similiar $29.5 million bond issue failed during a Dec. 5, 2016, referendum.

That bond issue won the approval of 58.6 percent of those voting, falling just short of the required 60 percent level.

Paying off the new proposed bond issue would cost the owner of a home with an assessed value of $100,000 a year just $12 a year, according to Kinney.

Kinney said the college does not get any money from the state for the kinds of infrastructure projects that would be paid for with the bond issue money.

He said student tuition is the No. 1 source of money for the college. Tuition increases have to be limited in order to keep an education affordable, he added.

State general aid is the second largest source of revenue for the college.

Local property tax dollars provide just 4.13 percent of the school’s revenue, according to Kinney.