September 11 special election asks voters to continue with existing NICC bond levy

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) is asking voters to decide whether to continue the College’s existing bond levy in a special election scheduled for Tuesday, September 11. The NICC Board of Trustees approved the continuation at its meeting in April of this year and is now bringing the matter in front of voters, to be labeled “Public Measure B” on the special election ballot.

The bond levy up for renewal is a continuation of an already existing levy - not a new tax, and if approved by voters would allow NICC to secure $39 million in taxpayer support. The College’s current property tax levy rate for the bond and interest fund is set at $0.288 per $1,000 assessed valuation, and the new bond issuance, if approved by district voters, is structured to be paid off at that same $0.288 levy rate.

The College’s tax base includes public school districts in Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties, as well as sections of Bremer, Buchanan Jones, Jackson and Mitchell counties. NICC serves a district area of 5,056 square miles and has two campus locations in Calmar and Peosta, and seven service locations in Cresco, Dubuque, Manchester, New Hampton, Oelwein and Waukon. From 2016-2017, a total of 6,299 students enrolled in academic programs at the College and more than 20,573 continuing education students enrolled in business and community solutions courses.

NICC President Liang Chee Wee, Ph.D., believes that the continuation of the current levy will allow the College to continue to address aging facilities and increase operational and energy efficiencies, enhance physical and cyber security measures and stay current with ever-changing technologies for education and operations. The continuation also allows NICC to adapt current spaces to support programs and services to meet growing employer and workforce expectations, and support new and developing models of teaching and learning.

“Facilities at our campuses and service locations continue to age with some infrastructures constructed in the late 1960s and 1970s. To identify our major priorities, we reviewed our Master Facility Plan and incorporated input of students, faculty and staff. The teaching and learning needs continue to evolve and workforce needs also change rapidly, particularly with the introduction of new technologies. The support of voters in northeast Iowa will allow NICC to continue to educate and train our region’s workforce of tomorrow,” Dr. Wee stated.

The College has determined there are needed renovations and updates throughout its district and identified four major priorities: educational programming and services, infrastructure, security and technology.

Educational programming and services priorities identified in that review include creating flexible and collaborative learning spaces, and updating classrooms and labs. Infrastructure priorities include renovating Peosta campus’ 1970s-era main building involving classrooms, labs, student and community areas; replacing aging parking lots, HVAC systems and water lines; renovating instructional spaces on the Calmar campus; expanding spaces to enhance student and community experiences; renovating downtown Dubuque service locations to meet the expanding classroom and programming needs of the community; and implementing sustainability practices.

In addition to those items, security priorities include installing district-wide security camera system and entry locks, and integrating communication systems between campus buildings at Calmar campus. Technology priorities at NICC include updating instructional technologies to meet educational programming needs of the College’s multiple service locations and K-12 partnerships; replacing network servers; installing a print management system; and upgrading the phone system district-wide.

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