Voters in November will decide on a $162.5 million bond referendum to improve facilities and build three new buildings at College of the Mainland, after a board vote Monday.
Trustees in a 6-0 vote approved calling an election Nov. 6 for a bond issue to finance several capital projects, including a new building to house science, technology, engineering and math programs, a new industrial careers building and a new student success building.
Trustee Rosalie Kettler was not at the meeting because of a death in the family, officials said.
“This college is 50 years old and its buildings are not in great shape,” Trustee Don Gartman said. “I want to thank everyone who worked on this.”
The College of the Mainland has not had a successful bond election since voters approved a $4.75 million referendum in 1970, officials said.
Texas City leaders have long argued that the campus is in need of capital improvements, but officials have had several recent failures at passing bond referendums.
Voters rejected bond proposals in 2007 and 2011, which some have attributed to resentment against previous college boards.
“For the past one and a half years, we’ve worked diligently to strengthen the image of the college,” President Warren Nichols said. “We’ve created great partnerships between the college and businesses, industries and the community.”
Trustees in 2016 hired PBK to create a master plan and formed a committee to begin talks on a bond issue. But bitterness and vitriol between the board and a former college president ultimately led to her resignation that same year.
The college delayed the bond proposition until it hired Nichols in January 2017.
“The board is in-sync and working on behalf of the students,” Gartman said of why the most recent effort is different. “We have an experienced president working with the board.”
The community sees that the board is working together with the president, Gartman said.
Representatives of a bond advisory committee presented the proposed referendum ahead of the trustees’ vote.
The largest portion of the referendum — about $138 million — is proposed for the three new buildings.
The 160,000-square foot STEM and Allied Health building will include new programs such as surgical technology, physical therapy assistance and communications, said Ruth Rendon, spokeswoman for the college.
The proposed 90,000-square foot industrial careers building would house the occupational safety technician and heating, ventilation and air conditioning programs, among others, Rendon said.
The planned 60,000-square foot student success building would replace the existing administration building, Rendon said.
The rest of the bond would go toward renovations and expansions at the fine arts building, physical plant and technology upgrades, officials said. The police station, technical vocation and administration centers would be demolished under the current bond proposal, officials said.
Officials have argued that expanding the campus is necessary to keep pace with increasing student enrollment.
Enrollment at the college has grown by about 21 percent during the past 10 years, according to district figures.
During the fall 2008 semester, 3,561 students were enrolled. By the fall 2017, enrollment had grown to 4,328, Rendon said.
Nichols last summer recommended trustees approve a $16.25 million maintenance tax bond to begin making repairs to existing buildings on campus, instead of holding off for a bond election. The maintenance tax bond didn’t require voter approval.
Registered voters who live in Dickinson, Hitchcock, Santa Fe and Texas City school district boundaries are eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 election, officials said.
If approved, the bond would increase taxes on the average home in the district valued at about $120,800 by about $141 per year, officials said.
The current maintenance and operations tax rate is 0.216 per $100 valuation, officials said. If approved, the estimated interest and sinking tax rate would increase from zero to .117 per $100 valuation, Rendon said.