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CWI leaders remain optimistic despite failed $180M bond on November ballot

Posted at 5:15 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-09 19:15:41-05

Leaders with the College of Western Idaho are trying to figure out how to make their $180 million expansion plan a reality after voters failed to pass the initiative on the November 8 ballot.

The college was asking voters in both Ada and Canyon County to approve an increase in property taxes over the next 25 years to fund major expansions to the existing campus in Nampa and to build a brand new facility in west downtown Boise.

After receiving just under 60% of the vote, those plans are now on hold but college leaders remain optimistic.

"When you get close to six out of 10 people agreeing this is something that we ought to do, you should feel pretty good about that," CWI president Berton Glandon said. "We'll have to sit down and very strategically and thoughtfully consider that this need is not going to go away. Business and industry will still have a huge need. We still have a huge population growth that's occurring, and we still need to figure out how to serve the number of students that are coming to us now both academically and in the professional technical area."

The bond failure means college leaders may have to renew existing leases in facilities across the two counties in years to come which they were hoping to no longer need.

"We know we need to develop the property downtown. We know we need to get out of the leases. we know the growth of students will grow to 35,000, and we know that's not going to change," president Glandon said. "We know the business and industry is going to become increasingly more interested in assisting us and working with us because it's in their best interest that we continue to grow in the right way and develop in the right ways, and our board is going to come to the table and say, 'Okay what do we do differently and how can we re-approach this?'"

The $180 million bond would have increased taxes for homeowners in Ada and Canyon County by $22.31 a year per $100,000 of taxable property value. 

College leaders will be meeting over the next few days to break down results from the election and develop proposals to bring to the Board of Trustees at the end of the month.