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October 8, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego County Taxpayers Association, a watchdog organization that looks out for citizens’ tax dollars, has given its support to Proposition V, the $398 million bond measure being sought on the Nov. 6 ballot by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

If approved by East County voters, funds from Proposition V will be used for creating and improving Veterans Support Centers and career training facilities,

modernizing college technology, and updating aging classrooms and infrastructure.

The taxpayers association, which announced its decision Sept. 21, said the district’s measure meets the key provisions of the group’s bond support criteria, including the district’s adoption of the taxpayer association policy regarding the use of controversial long-term capital appreciation bonds.

In making its recommendation, the taxpayers association underwent a detailed analysis of the East County college district’s proposed measure and studied the district’s performance on Proposition R, the $207 million bond measure that was approved by East County voters in 2002. The money from Proposition R was used to build or renovate 13 major projects on the Grossmont and Cuyamaca campuses, along with numerous infrastructure improvements.

“We’re very pleased that the Taxpayers Association recognized that Grossmont-Cuyamaca will continue to be frugal with taxpayer dollars, just as we were with Prop R,” said Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

Governing Board.

The bond measure calls for the creation of a citizen oversight committee to monitor Proposition V bond expenditures. An oversight committee has been monitoring Proposition R expenditures, which have continued to receive spotless audits throughout the life of the project.

Proposition V must be approved by 55 percent of voters in order to pass. If approved, the typical East County homeowner would be assessed $16.94 per $100,000 of valuation, meaning the typical homeowner would pay about $40 per year. The bond measure is being sought under the Provisions of Proposition 39, which prohibits use of the funds for operations, administrator salaries, or pensions.

Proposition V is the result of a two-year comprehensive needs assessment and planning process based on an educational master plan that will guide the district for the next decade and beyond.

A facilities master plan for the district identified numerous building, technology and sustainability needs for the two campuses, which have about 25,000 students.

Grossmont College was built 50 years ago, and has 14 original buildings that are badlyin need of repairs and don’t serve today’s technology requirements. Cuyamaca College opened in 1978, and many of its buildings, roads, mechanical systems and fixtures are no longer adequate to serve the campus and its students.

“Our district has many facility needs, which can only be addressed if Proposition V is approved by East County voters,” said Chancellor Cindy L. Miles. “We need adequate and modern facilities so that our colleges can continue to provide the top-notch education to students that East County has come to expect.”

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More taxpayer-funded campus construction wasteland? No thanks!

East county voters who care about the colleges should think carefully about what this bond is really buying them, especially if they are planning to attend or send loved ones to them in the next couple of years. Prop V is a construction bonanza which does little to help the students or faculty in these desperate economic times for education. 

Local construction firms are salivating at the prospect of Prop V's passage, but Grossmont College in particular was seen nearly a decade of construction blight under Prop R,  with severe impacts on traffic and parking, students having to eat lunch outdoors.for 2 years, and large chunks of campus off limits while functional buildings were being torn down or renovated. Thankfully, as Prop R funds were running out earlier this year, the campus became, for once, a pleasant place to visit, with shiny new facilities, but also with many students being turned away as state budget cuts limited class offerings. Prop V does NOTHING to address this. (If you care about comunity colleges, vote for Prop 30 instead.) 

But now the GCCCD administration, like an addict coming back for their next fix, wants DOUBLE the amount they received 10 years ago! I shudder to think about what this will do to the student experience, which is already stressful enough with deep cuts to class sections and a freeze on hiring replacement faculty. (Administrators, on the other hand, are replaced immediately as being "critical" to the colleges' mission).

The mention of a Veterans Support Center is a cynical tug at our emotions - most of the nearly $400 million will be spent on other things. There is plenty of existing space to house one if the desire was there. As for facilities being "obsolete" or Cuyamaca's buildings dating back to 1978 (which is newer than most east county residents' homes)...well they should have spent the Prop R money on fixing those, instead of tearing down the Grossmont Student Center and admin complex that were ugly but at least functional. 

Worse still, some of the buildings that have just been renovated and re-roofed with Prop R funds may be slated for demolition if Prop V passes,  throwing good money after bad - YOUR money, that is, for many years to come!

GCCCD administrators need to be reminded it's the students and the faculty that make a college, not ribbon-cutting photo-ops in front of construction boondoggles, paid for well-meaning but misinformed taxpayers. Let's help GCCCD kick its construction addiction and re-focus on serving today's students by voting NO on Prop V.