Laramie County voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a bond that would have gone toward improving LCCC’s Fine Arts Building, Recreation and Athletics Center and residence halls.
Of people who cast ballots, 58.78 percent voted against the bond, and 41.22 percent voted for it.
The approximately $29.5 million bond would have gone toward improvements at LCCC that the district determined where necessary “to extend the useful life of existing facilities, improve energy efficiency, improve accessibility for persons with disabilities, address a lack of on-campus student housing, provide event/assembly space, strengthen education and workforce training programming, promote fitness and wellness, and enhance student recruitment and retention,” according to the Bond Election ballot.
“It’s really disappointing because I think it was so important for our students here, which is what we’re all about,” Carol Merrell, Board Chair of Trustees, said.
Merrell said the board of trustees would meet with LCCC President Dr. Joe Schaffer and Vice President Rick Johnson to discuss plans in light of the bond’s defeat.
The bond would have beared a maximum rate of interest that would not have exceeded 4 percent per annum and would have matured in 15.5 years. The tax would have expired once the bonds have been paid in full.
Onlookers at an LCCC watch party in the Pathfinder building gradually left as the results came in. At one point in the evening, more than 60 percent of tallied votes were in opposition to the bond. Scott Noble, Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation, arrived to the watch party offering words of encouragement as the votes were coming in, at one point sharing an anecdote about how his basketball team came back from a game that seemed like a loss.
Daniel Powell, the Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities said the department would need to come up with a Plan B in light of the bond’s defeat. He pointed out that some of the upgrades that the bond would have paid for were to portions of buildings that have not been renovated in more than three decades.
“I think we’re going to keep on keeping on,” Powell said. “We’re no strangers to adversity, the one constant thing that we have in the arts, but we’ve persevered.”
Merrell said that some people who voted against the bond might have done because they were worried about higher taxes.
“I think some voters were very aware of their taxes and very concerned about paying more money and saw that they were paying money for different items on tax bills,” Merrell said. I think some voters just plain didn’t understand what they were voting for and how important this college is to our community.”
Powell said he was happy that so many voters turned out at the polls, even if the election didn’t turn out the way he’d hoped.
“The community cares enough to come out and vote,” Powell said. “I’m disappointed in the direction it goes. I’m not giving up on the community. We just need to do a better job of getting the information out of our needs, and that can be the core of the genesis of that Plan B.”