Kirkwood bond issue headed toward passage

'We are thrilled,' college president says

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Despite the potential for financing fatigue — with several Eastern Iowa school districts asking taxpayers to commit millions of bond sales toward their facilities — Kirkwood Community College appeared to easily surpass the 60 percent threshold needed to extend its existing bond issue five more years.

With all but one of Kirkwood’s seven largest affected counties reporting late Tuesday, 69 percent of voters had cast ballots in support of renewing Kirkwood’s bond — a tax of 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed taxable property value, which voters first passed in 2005 and renewed in 2012.

Preliminary results showed the largest support in Johnson and Jones counties, where 73 percent voted yes. Four of the other five major counties in Kirkwood’s region — with Washington County still outstanding — also cleared the 60 percent bar, according to Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich.

“We are thrilled with the support of the voters in our district,” Starcevich said. “Everyone really understands what Kirkwood does and the impact we have on our region … They see a value in what we do.”

The initiative will generate $60 million for student success initiatives — namely a new student center; upgrades to its Washington Hall, Animal Health Technology Building, and Automotive Technology Program; and improvements to the Iowa City campus.

“We will get to work tomorrow,” Starcevich said.

Kirkwood administrators have said they do not plan to ask voters in another five years to extend the bond again.

“This is really our last major effort that’s needed on campus,” Starcevich told The Gazette in August. “The key is, there’s no increase in tax rate, it just adds five more years to the debt. Which isn’t bad for $60 million, and the impact of that $60 million will be huge.”

Despite an organized campaign against the Iowa City school district’s $191.5 million bond issue — the largest in state history, which also passed Tuesday — no united opposition emerged against Kirkwood’s bond continuation.

For Kirkwood, Tuesday’s results confirm it will get the funding it needs to fulfill pressing needs identified in its three-year facility study, which officials have said they hope will benefit every Kirkwood student and foster a deeper and more valuable community experience.

“What they have said to us is that what you’re doing is right, and keep on doing it,” Starcevich said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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