In the April 10 primary election for the City of Los Angeles, more than two-thirds of the voters passed Proposition A, a bond issue granting $1.245 billion for capital investment projects for the nine campuses of Los Angeles Community College. Such overwhelming support of a bond issue has led GCC to begin investigating the viability of bond issues here.
Each of the nine campuses – L.A. City, East L.A., West L.A., L.A. Harbor, L.A. Mission, L.A. Pierce, L.A. Southwest, L.A. Trade-Technical, and L.A. Valley College -will receive monies ranging from $111 million to $172 million. This awarded money is strictly for the construction or renovation of campus facilities. No money will go to administration or salaries.
At GCC, “Seventy-five percent of our budget goes to salaries and benefits,” said controller Ron Nakasone. Los Angeles community colleges allocate a similar percentage.
“Maintenance and upkeep of facilities are usually the first thing to be cut” when funds are low, said Nakasone. The L.A. Community College District is under funded and has been cutting projects for a long time. It will now be able to rectify the situation.
In the list of proposed facilities projects, the majority of items deal with modernization of buildings. This often includes removal of asbestos, rewiring electrical and environmental systems, as well as providing access to the Internet over as much of the campuses as possible. Many of the colleges will also be constructing new buildings as well as parking structures.
Here at GCC, funds for construction have been mostly depleted by the recent Plaza Vaquero and Sierra Madre construction projects. However, there are still many needs to be met, with a possible parking structure envisioned at the current site of parking lots B/C.
When asked about the possibility of initiating a similar bond measure here at Glendale, Nakasone said that two bond issues were in the works. The first is a Certificate of Participation bond, which would be voted on by the board of trustees; the other is a General Obligation bond similar to Prop. A, which would be decided by voters in Glendale.
“The college has hired consultants to research the possibility of a [General Obligation] bond passing here in Glendale,” said Nakasone. Some analysts say that the Los Angeles bond passed not only because of a perceived need to renovate the colleges, but also because of the timing. No other bond issues were on the primary ballot, so voters may have felt more inclined to vote for it.
Nakasone said that GCC hoped to have the same good timing as Los Angeles, but that more research and planning would need to be completed before any final plans were announced. GCC hopes to have the research complete in the near future so that the bond could be put on this November’s ballot.
Currently, GCC’s yearly operating budget is about $50 million. The tentative Certificate of Participation bond would provide $5 million for the renovation of the Chemistry/Math building, for construction of the Math/Science center, for a new central plant, and equipment for the facilities.
Along with the bond, the federal government would provide almost $4 million to the proposed Science/Math building project.
The General Obligation bond would probably be a much higher amount, but no amounts will be decided upon until citizen attitudes are assessed.