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News / Clark County News

Capital budget funds to go to Clark College

Ridgefield campus project will receive $5.2 million, but school declines money earmarked for rec center that had been under consideration

By Jake Thomas, Columbian political reporter
Published: January 24, 2018, 9:15pm

Two large capital projects for Clark College recently received funding they needed when state lawmakers ended a yearlong political dispute and approved the $4.2 billion capital budget.

Clark College said it’s going to pass on the funding for one of those projects, a new student recreation center.

The center would have been funded with $35 million in bonding authority, the largest pot of money earmarked in the state capital budget for such projects in this county.

According to college spokeswoman Hannah Erickson, the college passed on the bond because the student body didn’t support an increase in fees that would’ve been required to pay back the bond.

“We have no plans to move forward with it at this time,” said Erickson.

The college did, however, receive a separate $5.2 million in the capital budget for its Boschma Farms campus in Ridgefield that it intends to use, Erickson said.

In a follow-up email, Erickson said that the item for the student center was in the college’s budget request because the idea of a recreation center was being considered at the time. If the proposal had gone forward, she said the college would have needed to issue a bond to cover the expenses for it that would have been paid back through student fees and memberships to the center.

The center was first proposed by the Associated Students of Clark College, the college’s student government, Erickson said. The bond to build the new building would be financed with an estimated $5 increase per credit in fees, she said. ASCC considered putting the question to the student body in the form of a vote but ultimately decided not to, she said.

“The ASCC decided to explore the idea through an online survey sent to students in late 2016, but by February 2017 the survey had shown a lack of interest from students in moving forward and the ASCC’s Executive Council decided not to pursue it further,” Erickson said.

According to a February 2017 story in the Clark College Independent, the survey drew little attention from students and there were concerns that holding a vote would be similarly ignored.

“They didn’t even care enough to click (on the survey),” Student Relations and Promotions Coordinator Marco Morales said, according to the paper. “It would be a poor use of time.”

State documents still show Clark County slated to receive a total of $80 million. With Clark College not pursuing the $35 million in bonds, the total is $45 million. After the bonds for Clark College, the second-largest amount of money in Clark County’s slice of the capital budget is $10 million in grants and loans to extend Northeast 10th Avenue.

Columbian political reporter