After voters rejected a $28 million bond last week, Blue Mountain Community College’s board of trustees told president Cam Preus to gear up for another try.

Preus said she will bring another bond resolution — this time for May 2014 — to the board in December.

So far, plans are identical to the 31-cent-per-$1,000 continuation bond that voters rejected last week, except this time advocates hope to do a better job explaining its necessity.

“It is our collective belief that we need these resources in order to keep Blue Mountain on the cutting edge of innovation for preparing students for a wider world,” Preus said. “I don’t think we made our case well in Umatilla County, except in Pendleton.”

No Umatilla County precincts outside the Pendleton area — 29 in all — approved the continuation bond that would have funded new education facilities and programs in Pendleton, Hermiston and Boardman.

In Pendleton, eight out of nine precincts passed the bond. Morrow County, which would have received a new food processing and workplace development program, also passed the bond.

“That is one of the great questions in terms of why that happened,” director of grants Casey Beard said. “A lot of what we’ll be doing in the next few weeks will be just talking to people in different parts of the county.”

Beard and Preus only have guesses as to why the rest of the county was against the bond — especially after 60 percent of residents polled last year said they would vote for it.

One possibility is that the new higher education facility, built in 2011, may have convinced western Umatilla County residents that updates weren’t needed.

Also, Preus said, the surveys made clear there would be no increased taxes, while BMCC’s ballot statement that arrived in the mail this fall never mentioned the unchanged tax rate.

With or without the property taxes, some of the bond’s projects must be completed. Of the $28 million raised, $12 million would have gone to technology and infrastructure upgrades.

Preus said that means money that currently goes to programming would be reduced — unless BMCC can get voters on its side in May.

“We’re sharpening our pencil and looking at clearer messaging and descriptors as far as what we plan to do,” she said.


Contact Natalie Wheeler at 541-966-0836.

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