NIC trustees consider bond - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

NIC trustees consider bond

College looking to expand technical training programs

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - North Idaho College trustees are considering asking Kootenai County voters to approve a multi-million dollar bond to finance construction of the expansion of the college's professional technical training programs.

Trustees met for a workshop Tuesday to explore the programs' needs and priorities, and discuss possible financing options. They steered clear of discussing potential sites to expand the programs.

"I don't want us to get sidetracked, at this point in time, on where the facility's going to be located," said board chair Ken Howard at the start of the meeting. "We feel that we can go forward, identify the programs and their priorities and then go to the public and ask for, if necessary, bond proceeds in order to address these needs."

If the trustees ask the public to approve a bond measure at the polls, one path considered would not result in increased taxes for property owners. To make the annual bond payments, trustees would use a tax revenue stream that has been in place since 2008. The trustees on the board at that time, including current trustees Judy Meyer and Christie Wood, elected to exercise foregone taxing authority of $2.4 million per year to pay for the purchase of the DeArmond Mill site adjacent to the college. Trustees paid off that lease and took ownership of the property in 2010. The NIC board elected to dedicate the continuing $2.4 million revenue stream to capital improvements, and the money has been placed in a special fund each year for that purpose.

During Tuesday's meeting, Ron Nilson said most people thought that foregone taxing authority would not remain in place once the mill site was paid off. He suggested they consider giving up the $2.4 million property tax revenue stream, and ask voters to approve a bond.

Ken Howard said that if they did that, they would have to raise taxes to pay the bond off.

Christie Wood and Judy Meyer each said that even if the board seeks voter approval of a bond, they don't want to see all of the $2.4 million annual revenue stream go toward paying off the bond.

"If we obligate that for the next 30 years, we won't be able to meet our other needs," Wood said.

Mike Myers, dean of professional technical education and workforce training, told trustees that the most critical needs are in the college's manufacturing, and diesel and automotive programs. The needs are great across the board in technical education, he said, pointing out that the college has 251 students in its programs right now, but that 406 completed applications are received from eligible students.

Business and economic development leaders spoke to the board about the region's need for individuals trained in the trades.

"What we've been forced to do is under-employ," said Sunshine Minting's CEO Tom Power.

They then have to train workers in the higher skills themselves, he said, which costs time and is a drain on production.

The site for expanded manufacturing, diesel and automotive, and construction trades programs was the topic of a series of public meetings hosted by the college last spring. Hundreds of citizens turned out and testified, telling trustees and NIC's top administrators where they think the programs should be expanded - on campus, on the Rathdrum Prairie near the Kootenai Technical Education Campus high school, or at the old Jacklin Seed facility near the Greyhound Park in Post Falls.

The trustees decided they will continue exploring the various financing options.

Trustee Ken Howard urged his fellow board members to find a way to "move forward in a positive way."

He asked the trustees to consider what more they would like to discuss at additional meetings.

"We have done studies, we have had meetings... I must confess, I'm a little concerned we're still not reaching the focus on moving forward... I just don't know what more we can offer ourselves in the way of information to assist that discussion," he said.

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  • sierra posted at 6:23 pm on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    sierra Posts: 82

    Is this a joke. They have a work force training center. Its the worst training center I have ever seen. The few real tradesman that have came out of the program. Just go elsewhere for work. 30 min drive will get you a 2$ hr raise. Too many low paying employers in this area and you want everyone to pay for this. NIC do not train people properly and just like every other part of government want to throw money at the problem. They have a building and a program. fix it.

  • SamuelStanding posted at 7:38 am on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 589

    All three of you are correct (Witness, Concerned, Vox)!
    Tom Power pushed for KTEC and the training of high school students to work within his minting business. The manufacturing mantality has been to move away from training and related costs to increase their (private) bottom line. While still paying minimum wage and intangling workers to never get ahead or improve their life style. KTEC does not even fill their building anymore and classes/instructors have been let go due to the low enrollment numbers. Meanwhile, taxpayers were hit with the bond to build this structure of what was it again, OH YES! Deisel mechanics, construction and the very same courses NIC offers.

    Then let us not forget the NEED for a Junior College to have a BRAND NEW STADIUM for basketball games. I am all for eduction, but NIC is greedy and has wasted their request for taxpayer assistance. Move on or get you benefactors to pony up.

  • oscar posted at 7:37 am on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    oscar Posts: 1490

    Good post witness.

  • witness posted at 6:46 am on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    witness Posts: 57

    "What we've been forced to do is under-employ," said Sunshine Minting's CEO Tom Power.
    They then have to train workers in the higher skills themselves, he said, which costs time and is a drain on production."

    What a shame. The taxpayers of Kootenai County should train Sunshine's workers? Will those additional profits be shared with taxpayers? Should taxpayers fund training for every business in Kootenai County? At what point did companies begin to believe employee training was the Kootenai County taxpayers responsibility? Did NIC make this promise?

    If the expensive building is built, how will the will the newly expanded programs be funded? Will the State of Idaho pay? Why is the State of Idaho not paying now to expand? Lack of money? Did Idaho promise to train all Idaho companies employees?

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:42 am on Wed, Oct 30, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Of course they come to the taxpayers ........... AGAIN and again and again.

    Great point voxpop

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