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Voters in three of five counties approve $450 million for state's largest community college network

PMG FILE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Members of the Portland Community College Gender Inclusive Spaces Committee stand at the entrance to the library at PCC Sylvania. By 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, a PCC bond measure was passing.UPDATED Friday, Nov. 11 A $450 million bond measure for Portland Community College was approved by voters Tuesday, Nov. 8. While some votes were still being tallied Friday, the measure passed by nearly 61.3%.

Measure 26-224 maintains the current property tax rate of .38 cents per $1,000 of assessed value across the five counties in PCC's service district for an estimated 16 years. PCC promises to use the bonds to renovate and modernize its facilities and equipment.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, PCC President Adrien Bennings shared gratitude for voters.

"We thank the voters for your continued support of one of our area's greatest assets: our community college, its dedicated employees, and all of our students who are doing their part to make the greater Portland community a better place to live and work," Bennings said. "Portland continues to grow and evolve, and PCC is adapting to meet Portland's needs. As Oregon's largest post-secondary institution, our bond program is committed to being a responsible steward of community resources, and returning to voters and taxpayers a value that far exceeds the investment they have made in us this November."

PMG FILE PHOTO: TROY SHINN - The new building at Portland Community College's Rock Creek campus is geared exclusively toward career training for those looking to become a Caterpillar dealer or specialist. A newly approved bond measure will help pay for additional building and technology upgrades at PCC campuses.PCC says bond funds would increase hybrid learning options, expand career technical education in Washington County, upgrade existing facilities at the college's Rock Creek and Sylvania campuses and provide HVAC, lighting and plumbing upgrades at its sites. PCC serves Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill and Columbia counties, as well as portions of Clackamas County.

"We know that students crave work-focused, work-based learning options. With a priority to modernize classrooms and other learning spaces, this bond measure will do just that. And it is future-focused: PCC is preparing and training Oregon's workforce of the future, which serves to invigorate and strengthen Oregon's economy," Bennings added.

Tiffani Penson, chair of PCC's board of directors, said the money will help prepare students for a modernized workforce.

"When we support PCC, we're supporting our region," Penson said. "The passage of this bond measure enables PCC to provide our community access to affordable higher education and job training. Together, we're helping PCC students get the skills they need to secure better paying jobs to keep up with the growing cost of living in the Portland metro area."

Voters last approved a $185 million PCC bond in 2017, which was floated to pay for repairs, facility modernization and renovation, as well as safety improvements and technology upgrades.

Opponents of the 2022 bond measure, including political think tank organization Cascade Policy Institute, criticized the college for seeking additional construction bond dollars while PCC is shedding thousands of students--18,000 since the 2017 bond, according to enrollment figures publicized by PCC.

Voters in Columbia and Yamhill counties rejected the measure. Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington County voters approved it. College officials noted the bond dollars will also help increase the lifespan of the college's buildings and provide better access for people with disabilities.

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