Ada and Canyon County voters to decide future for College of Western Idaho

CWI is asking voters to pass a $180M bond
Posted at 5:58 PM, Nov 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-02 19:58:04-04

Election day is right around the corner and voters in Ada and Canyon Counties are being asked to decide the fate for the College of Western Idaho.

CWI is asking voters to pass a $180 million bond to build a new urban Ada County campus in west downtown Boise and add new buildings to the existing Canyon County campus in Nampa.

It's a move CWI President Berton Glandon says is necessary to meet the growing needs of current and future CWI students. They expect enrollment numbers to continue growing over the next several years.

"This [bond] would give us the physical capacity to serve those 35,000 students over the next five to ten years," President Glandon said.

In order to move forward with the project, 66.67% of combined voters in Ada and Canyon County would need to vote "yes". It would possible for the bond to pass if one county votes lower than the two-thirds requirement, if the other votes above the two-thirds requirement.

If the bond passes, President Glandon says it would allow the college to vacate multiple buildings across the two counties that are currently being leased. Student would then have the option of two concise locations - one in Boise and one in Nampa.

"We grew so fast, so quick, that we are in like a half a dozen buildings across Ada and Canyon County," Glandon said.

Some people are expressing concerns about covering the costs of the bond: $22.31 per year, per $100,000 of taxable property value for homeowners in Ada and Canyon Counties.

Some concerns stem from 2007, when CWI first  asked taxpayers for funds.

"The people behind the college, less than ten years ago made some very significant promises to taxpayers about what it would cost," Wayne Hoffman with the Idaho Freedom Foundation said. "And it's not even been a decade and already they've broken those promises."

The tax hike will expire in 25  years, with a majority of funding going toward expansions at the main Nampa campus.

Glandon says $115 million will go toward creating a Student Success Center and a Health Services building at the Canyon County campus.

The remaining $65 million will go toward building the brand new campus adjacent to Quinn's Pond in west downtown Boise.

Glandon says even for residents who may not enroll in classes themselves, he feels the project would benefit the entire Treasure Valley.

"I really think the American dream is built into having lifelong learning and having educational opportunities and affordable access to education," Glandon said. "This last graduation class, the youngest was 17 and the oldest was 84, so even if you're not going to school, you possibly have children going to school, grandchildren going to school, or great grand children that are going to need educational opportunities."

Now it's up to the voters.