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Thursday, January 17, 2008

PCC wants another $374 million

I hate to sound like an old Republican coot, but they're dreaming. We're all way too broke for this. It's time for a new coat of paint and another decade at least with the facilities they've already got:

Property owners in Multnomah, Washington, Columbia, Yamhill and parts of Clackamas counties are still paying for a $144 million bond measure from 2000 that financed renovations, technology and new buildings, including a $60 million overhaul of the Cascade campus in North Portland. Those bonds won't be paid off 2018, and the $374 million proposal would add to PCC's current levy on property tax bills.
If they're willing to live with a failed levy, I guess they can try. But I'm thinking "nonstarter."

Comments (22)

There is a chance insurance for these Bonds may well dry up. We should be so lucky?

Who needs insurance? They'll just sell the bonds at junk interest rates and pay more debt service.

The Portland Public schools "need" $1.6 billion.

Sam "needs" another $500 million for "emergency" transportation fixes.

If Randy ever gets tired of being the bio-Nanny, he'll "need" another $1.5 billion for cryptosporidium treatment and (surprise) all those 100 year old sewer mains (bond pitch: it's all George Bush's fault).

The Fire and Police Pension Fund needs another $2 billion before it's fully funded.

Add in another couple of hundred million for sustainable homeless solar eco-roof seismic upgrade PDC scams.

And you can bet that Tri-Met and Metro will have a bond issue or three (hint: just to maintain our current funding).

It could get mighty expensive to live in Portland, once you add up all the new revenue bonds and "must have" infrastructure repairs.

The view from the Tram is going to look pretty silly when there's nothing to see but "Price Reduced" signs and failing asphalt.

But at least the trolleys will be running on time.

One thing's for sure.

Every elected Democrat in sight and every newspaper will give it deep thought before they support it.

I'm sure most of it will be spent on new pork for Hoffman Construction. Drinks all around at the Waverly...

You don't sound like an old coot Jack! You sound like a reasonable person! While PCC is a very important part of the Portland area, they need to step back for awhile and rethink this and come back in a few years, especially since it's Portland Public Schools that need to do something about the state of disrepair that many of the schools are in right now.

How things are going with the economy right now, it is NOT a good time to be looking for a hand out, especially in PCC's case when they just got one a few years ago.

A reader writes:

I worked for them and this is such a boondoggle. There is so much waste and so many programs that are irrelevant. Cutting the "Community Education" programs alone would save them a lot of money. Someone needs to hold them accountable.

Well this is one "old cootette" * who won't be voting for this. How about taking care of 2008 before worrying about 2030? Geez.

*eeek apostrophes !

"A reader writes:

'I worked for them and this is such a boondoggle. There is so much waste and so many programs that are irrelevant. Cutting the "Community Education" programs alone would save them a lot of money. Someone needs to hold them accountable.'"

Gee, now that is terribly specific. "So many programs that are irrelevant." Deails, please.

Didn't the news article about PCC say something about declining enrollments? Why are they asking for more money to educate fewer students?
And how do we know that more students will be enrolling any time soon? This is speculation from people looking for another public handout.

Response to the question of which programs are irrelevant:

An example, believe it or not, is the Computer Education majors (and the CE Program which is different and like the Community Education program sucks money from the college because it doesn't make any money - true!) The thing is the college has the information about which programs are popular and which aren't. They are losing enrollment because they haven't anticipated the marketplace.

For example there is a lottery held for the hundreds of applicants for the nursing program but they don't expand it. Other programs which are popular are the trades (automotive, HVAC etc) but rather than emphasize those programs (they suffer from not being glamorous enough) they instead try and compete with other institutions (the ITT Techs and New Horizons) by offering something like E-Commerce. Those other institutions are cheaper and they don't require prereqs etc., so they appeal to a certain kind of student. Anyone who wants to do something more complex is going to be enrolled at a university.

Another example of this is the case with Community Education. It is a nice idea but if it doesn't make money why should taxpayers subsidize yoga classes (for example) when they can be taken at one of the hundreds of yoga studios around the city or even through Portland Public Parks?

They need a serious audit and they certainly don't need any new facilities!

I caught this story last night and I too had that feeling - how are we going to pay for all this. I'm willing to pay my fair share for services, but it seems to keep piling on. I will say this for PCC - it is affordable for what you can get. My lovely wife is taking classes there full time to get her pre-requisites out of the way for nursing school. Compared to PSU or other state universities, it is cheaper. But someone did make a good point about the programs offered....

Diselboi, I'm in the same boat as your wife, so I appreciate that PCC does offer these classes at a much cheaper rate than PSU, etc. But D. (above your comment) sounds about right on all counts. They need to focus on what is in demand. I was amazed to hear that PCC holds a lottery for their nursing school selection---now that sounds like a way to get the best people into the field!

"Deails, please?"

That's pretty close to "Deals, please"

Which could refer to a lot of bad deals made.

The fact is, that if the public wants worthy things adequatley funded, in a fiscally sustainable fashion, the government mission creep must be reversed, in all sectors.

lin qiao's sarcasm, "Gee, now that is terribly specific", appears to be a posturing or pretense that he or she hasn't the foggiest notion of any waste or boondoggles.

Anyone posing that sort of smarmy suggestion is likely to twist and defend just about any demonstrations, or "detail" of waste.

From the CoP to PDC to the Port to Education, Metro etc. the things we are forced to fund have expanded into the absurd. The examples surface and get discussed all the time here and other places. With no change, and followed with more mission creeop and the lin qiao's asking to start over the details.

You should see how many classes they have to offer to get students educated to a high school grad level so they can start taking college level classes. The community colleges bear the brunt of the warehousing until 18 or 12 years (whatever comes first)model. They arrive at college unable to write, do simple math, know little of any sciences. Often it takes 1-2 years of "bonehead" before they are ready. So we all pay twice, for 12 years of babysitting then another year or so of actual learning before they can start a college education...

D, ever consider they can't accommodate all their nursing applicants because the facilities haven't expanded along with the demand?

Jack, question: is this bond repaid differently than the UofO athletic department bond? I personally don't see why the public should be at any risk for the proposed arena.

I would much rather invest in education, even Yoga classes.

Kevin, the point is if they were efficient with their use of our money they might be able to expand or improve the facilities with their existing funds - or at least some of them. They are not accountable and that is the bottom line.

For example with this bond they say they want to "renovate the Career Center at Rock Creek" – did you know the Career Center currently has new offices in a building only 3 years old?! It is beautiful building and the offices are bright with new furnishings and computers. Access is easy - right near the library. Someone tell me why they need new facilities? I know they need improved facilities to take on more nursing students but they knew that way before the last bond. Even with improvements I want to know how many more nursing students their program will educate. Better be a lot.

Education is worth investing in if that is what it is about. They aren't investing in the programs and reevaluating what they offer. They are losing money because they can't keep FTE (Full Time Enrollment) - the only way they can make money. It is also worth noting that the loss of FTE has come after they renovated and built new buildings!

Every yoga class and dog training course they offer to the public is money out of your pocket - it isn't educating anyone for the workplace or for a career.

they instead try and compete with other institutions (the ITT Techs and New Horizons) by offering something like E-Commerce. Those other institutions are cheaper...

Cheaper than community colleges? I seriously doubt that. Unless something major has changed.
I went to Oregon Polytechnic (a private tech school like ITT) when it was here, to learn Autocad. Two years there cost me nearly $15k. That was 15 years ago.
I later found out that the local community colleges could have given me the same program for about $3k. And I would have received an Associate Degree from an accredited college, not a "diploma" from a non-accredited tech school.

Salem are you there? Koolingooski are you there? We need your leadership to begin funding higher education at a basic level throughout the state. PSU is really struggling with a high rate of employee turnover and burnout.

You should see how many classes they have to offer to get students educated to a high school grad level so they can start taking college level classes.

My spouse teaches English at PCC Cascade; I hear about this sort of thing a lot. But what's the point? That PCC should not be offering these classes? That we tell anyone who didn't do well in his high-school English class, "tough luck, get a low-paying job requiring no education"?

A fine thing about Life in These United States is the fact that we even have community colleges to begin with. This model of education for the masses, and especially the opportunity that community colleges afford for people to have second chances in life, does not even exist in most developed countries. The elite who pass the tests at age 18 get to go to university, and that's it. Nobody else gets a chance.

The student body at Cascade is extremely diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, and every other pertinent measure. Community colleges in general and PCC Cascade in particular are reflections of society as a whole.

Every yoga class and dog training course they offer to the public is money out of your pocket - it isn't educating anyone for the workplace or for a career.

A couple of things. Most obviously, these sorts of things are non-credit classes. Community education is a chance to broaden your horizons a bit. Secondly, is the point here supposed to be that "education" is synonymous with "job training"? That's an awfully impoverished view of education.

Kumbaya, my Lord, that's wonderful. But they'll have to make do with the billions they've already been handed to spend.

(From page 13 of their 07-09 budget, under the summary of PCC's major resources,

"Differentiated tuition and fees for self-improvement courses, continuing education units and community education classes are estimated at $15.3 million for the biennium. These revenues are accounted for in the CEU/CED fund and are assessed to pay for the programs and non-credit classes offered under this division. The CEU/CED fund is designated as a self-supporting operation. However, starting July 1, 2007, I have designated $490,000 in the General Fund to support these programs by moving the cost of some of the administrative staff to the General Fund, in recognition of the reimbursable FTE generated by these programs."


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