Santa Barbara City College President John Romo led an on-campus meeting to hear endorsements for Measure V from several local organizations and leaders. Measure V is a bond that will appear on the June 3rd ballot. If passed, the measure would guarantee SBCC $77.2 million in needed funding with a chance at an additional $92 million in state matching funds.
The $77.2 million would come from a property tax of an estimated $8.50 for every $100,000 of a home’s assessed value. This means that the average Santa Barbara homeowner would pay approximately $35 more a year on their property taxes.
According to Romo, the projected total of $174 million would be used toward ten projects related to the maintenance of the school such as restoring and refurbishing dilapidated buildings and replacing obsolete equipment in labs and classrooms. Some of the projects are a matter of complying with basic safety standards such as retrofitting the bridge that connects the East and West sides of the campus as well as other buildings. About $9 million of the district money would go towards the construction of the new School of Media Arts which would consolidate classes on journalism, graphic arts, and others under one roof. Romo stresses that these expenditures are not expansions but necessary repairs that have been coming out of the college’s general funds. “The bond is not about growth,” he said.
To pass, the measure will need to receive at least a 55 percent majority vote. The last bond measure needed a 67 percent vote, but, as former Santa Barbara City Council member Dan Secord noted, 55 percent is still “a high bar.” Secord expressed enthusiastic support for the bond, praising SBCC for “how much they do with how little money they get.” One of the more remarkable aspects of the bond campaign, according to those present, is how it has garnered such widespread and varied support. President Romo said the measure has virtually no opposition and both the Democratic and Republican parties of the county have pledged full support.
Mike Stoker, president of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association called the measure “the most fiscally sound package we’ve ever reviewed,” adding that it was a “no-brainer for taxpayers.”
A list of endorsements released by the campaign reads like a roll call of some of the county’s most influential elected officials and private citizens including Mayors Marty Blum and Michael Bennett. Several organizations such as the Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, led by Luis Villegas, reported that they voted unanimously to support the measure. Several of the speakers noted that SBCC is a vital part of the community, not just because of the college-level courses, but also because of the adult education programs that expand the benefits beyond the typical college age group. SBCC also provides a resource for local high-school students who want to get an early start on college as well as job-training for a variety of careers. As Villegas noted, SBCC is “preparing the workforce of today and tomorrow.” Passing Measure V has received such unilateral support because “we need educated citizens,” explained Hillary Blackerby of the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara.
While the measure has seen an outpouring of endorsements from all areas of the district, it remains to be seen if it will receive the same response in the June 3 vote. Until then, Desmond O’Neill, president of the SBCC Board of Trustees, said the group “will be making as much as noise as we can.”