On Aug. 3, Santa Fe Community College will ask area voters to approve

$35 million

in bond financing. At last night's forum, college administrators answered questions about why they need that money, and just what they're planning to do with it.

"A recession is one of the best times to borrow money,"

SFCC President Sheila Ortego said by way of introduction. Interest rates are low, she explained, and "The college is in a very good position in terms of debt."

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Both Ortego and Meridee Walters, the college's VP of Finance and Administration, stressed that

approval of the bond won't translate into higher taxes.

According to Walters, a new bond will merely serve to keep SFCC's debt levels steady.

"In keeping the tax level constant, you're making an investment in the community—and [avoiding] wild fluctuations in the tax rates," Ortego said. "Community colleges are designed to get support from their communities."

Bond measures, she added, "are inevitable."

VOTE:

To vote early, visit the County Clerk's office (102 Grant Ave.) or SFCC by Fri., July 30. Voting day is August 3;

for precinct locations.

Ron Liss, Board President Carole Brito and Sheila Ortego expound on the virtues of a $35 million bond for SFCC.
Ron Liss, Board President Carole Brito and Sheila Ortego expound on the virtues of a $35 million bond for SFCC.

Now for the breakdown:

  • $12 million:
  • SFCC Higher Education Center

Last night, Ortego said the likely site of the new higher ed center would be near the College of Santa Fe, on land the state General Services Department is also looking at buying. The money would pay for the land and building construction of the center, in idea Ortego says came out of "strong interest in

having a campus closer to town."

  • $7 million:
  • "Green Projects"

These include solar arrays, solar-powered parking lights and "green buses," which Academic and Student Affairs VP Ron Liss said would work as a sort of hands-on outgrowth of the college's biodiesel training program.

  • $3 million:
  • renovating existing SFCC campus
  • $3.4 million:
  • infrastructure (cooling towers, irrigation controllers, bathrooms, etc.)
  • $7.6 million:
  • parking; north entrance to existing campus

  • $2 million:
  • IT upgrades

For more information, visit

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