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home : features : features July 22, 2014

7/17/2013 8:08:00 AM
Yavapai College outlines use of 2000 bond money
Yavapai College spent about $50 million on construction projects at its Prescott and Cottonwood campuses, paid for with bond money approved by voters in 2000. Prescott renovations included the college’s new campus library.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Yavapai College spent about $50 million on construction projects at its Prescott and Cottonwood campuses, paid for with bond money approved by voters in 2000. Prescott renovations included the college’s new campus library.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier

Patrick Whitehurst
Special to the Tribune

Yavapai County residents went to the polls in 2000, nearly 13 years ago, to approve a $69.5 million Yavapai College (YC) general obligation bond.

That bond passed with a total of 37,332 votes, just over 59 percent, at the time, according to Yavapai County election totals.

More than a decade later, YC has spent nearly every dime. And there are no plans to ask for a new bond, Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Clint Ewell said. Officials are, however, developing a new 10-year master plan for the college.

The master plan, which examines county demographics, workforce trends, program needs and more could be ready this fall. Based on that plan, college officials will decide what steps they need to take in the coming decade.

General obligation bonds raise property taxes for a certain period of time per voter approval. The bulk of the money comes in the form of bonds, which the college has to sell in a predetermined period of time.

"We sold those bonds over a period of three or four years. We pay the bonds back over a period of 20 years. We use a commercial bank to help place the bonds throughout the investment community," Ewell said.

The general obligations bond paid for renovations to existing infrastructure and new construction. Yavapai College campuses benefiting from the money include the Chino Valley, Cordes Junction, Sedona, Prescott and Prescott Valley, and the school's Verde Valley location.

Bond money paid for the purchase of 30 acres in Chino Valley, according to the college, as well as electrical upgrades, a greenhouse for hydroponics, an aquaculture tank, fire pump system and more.

Bond money also paid for renovation work in conjunction with Mayer High School to create a new education center.

In Prescott, crews worked on multiple renovations to the campus's existing four buildings, as well as construction on the new library.

Prescott Valley got upgrades to its air conditioning and heating system, an addition to an existing wing, a new lab and a police training and skill development center, as well as renovations to the existing campus buildings.

Ewell said about $50 million, the largest chunk of money, went to the Cottonwood and Prescott campuses.

Money from the bond paid for the purchase of five acres in Sedona as well, which college administrators hope to use for future expansion. Bond money also paid for a new building on the Clarkdale campus, which includes classroom space, science labs and offices.

Work continues on an electronic message board with the Mayer school district. That work, the last of the 2000 bond money, will be completed by the end of the month.

"In my opinion, we've done exactly what we told the voters we were going to do. We wanted to renovate campuses, we wanted to build new sites to make it more convenient to attend college, and we've updated our technology. Unlike some colleges and universities, we're really taking good care of the facilities and keeping them up to date and well maintained. I think our voters are really proud of that," Ewell said.

While he said he rarely hears of negative feedback in how the bond money has been spent, he said he has received comments on how attractive the campuses are.

"I think people really appreciate having an asset like this in our communities, where they have classrooms, meeting rooms, the sculpture garden, the performing arts center. All of those are things I think make Prescott a better place to live," Ewell said.

Successful bonds are those that make a compelling case to voters, he added.

YC Governing Board spokesperson Herald Harrington served on the board during the 2000 bond election.

"The main purpose of it came from our construction needs on the Prescott and Verde campuses that we needed to take care of because of growth. It was becoming obvious to us we were out of capacity to serve the educational needs of our constituents. We did a multi-year process then of what we needed and how to do it," Harrington said. "We pretty much accomplished all of our objectives and stayed within the budget, and actually saved a little bit in interest."

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