Oregon Coast Community College is proposing a new building — tentatively named the Center for Trades Education — to serve Lincoln County students, employers and industry. For quite some time, OCCC officials have been appearing at meetings around the county in an effort to raise awareness of the plans, but this week, those plans took an abrupt detour.
A ballot measure to fund construction was set to appear on the ballot in this May’s special election in Lincoln County. But on Thursday, March 16, OCCC officials issued a press release stating that the bond measure request has been rescheduled for the May 2024 election.
“One of the key elements that drove us to bring this proposal to the voters this year has changed,” reported Dave Price, OCCC’s vice president of engagement. “Since the summer of 2022, when we began discussing this May’s bond measure proposal, we’ve discussed the $8.14 million in matching funds from the state of Oregon. Recently, it became clear those funds have been reallocated, and previously authorized projects for three community colleges, including Oregon Coast, were not carried forward as expected in the Department of Administrative Service’s budget request.”
OCCC is re-filing the project as a 2023-2025 capital funding request for the $8 million match.
Price said that because the matching funds have appeared on the college’s ballot title and explanatory statement, and that hundreds of potential voters have already attended one or more of the college’s many public presentations held to date, OCCC leadership decided to reschedule the ballot measure.
“These folks have heard our commitment that their tax dollars, in the form of the $32 million our bonds would have raised for this project, would be matched by $8 million in state funds. If there’s any chance that we wouldn’t have been able to deliver on that expectation, we felt an obligation to wait for the next election cycle,” Price said.
He added that OCCC is already working with agencies in Salem, and has solicited the support of Rep. David Gomberg and Sen. Dick Anderson to help ensure state-match funding will in fact be available in the May 2024 election.
Birgitte Ryslinge, OCCC president, said the change to May 2024 is a mixed blessing. “While it’s true we’re discouraged by the potential delay of matching funds we’d been led to believe were available for this May’s election cycle, we are excited to have more time to engage with the community in planning what programs and expansions will be included. There’s more time to share how the county will benefit from this once-in-decades investment in career training for vital trades across Lincoln County.”
Ryslinge added that the OCCC Board of Education will vote on approving the May 2024 ballot measure at an upcoming meeting. To learn more about the college’s proposed Center for Trades Education, visit oregoncoast.edu/cte.
The college had scheduled a number of public forums in the coming weeks to discuss the May bond request. Now that the measure has been delayed, those forums have been canceled. However, OCCC officials still intend to provide information during upcoming chamber of commerce meetings in Newport and Lincoln City, as well as some other venues, to talk about the plan and the college.