The Chippewa Valley Technical College District Board on Thursday, Jan. 16 approved a resolution calling for an April 7 referendum on borrowing $48.8 million to fund projects identified in its facilities plans.

“Our goal is to address workforce and safety training needs throughout the district,” said Paul Bauer of Ellsworth, board president. “We have a growing labor shortage and need to make structural changes to accommodate new technology and meet the expectations of employers. Our training facilities for emergency services workers are in need of an upgrade.

The proposal includes construction of a new Transportation Education Center for $28 million, an addition and remodeling at the Emergency Services Education Center for $9.2 million, the addition of an Automated Fabrication Lab at the Manufacturing Education Center for $3 million, and purchase of land adjacent to the River Falls campus for $2.5 million. Also included are the development of mobile labs, purchase of new technology, remodeling at the Menomonie and Chippewa campuses, a storage facility, and additional labs.

“The projects we have outlined would have a direct positive impact in all of our communities. The new facilities would help ensure a highly skilled workforce for local businesses, as well as opportunities to retrain or upskill employees,” said Bruce Barker, CVTC president. “The improvements in the emergency services area, for example, would not only better prepare students entering those fields, but enable the first responders in your community who keep you safe to update and improve their skills.”

If the referendum passes, the tax impact would be spread over the 11-county district, resulting in an average property tax increase of $13 per year on $100,000 of equalized property value. The projects would be completed over three years, with much of the construction taking place in 2021-22.

The board approved the following wording of the referendum question:

"Shall the Chippewa Valley Technical College District, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds or promissory notes in an amount not to exceed $48,800,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of capital expenditures for the purchase or construction of buildings, building additions, remodeling and improvements, the acquisition of sites, and the purchase of fixed and other equipment at District locations, including, but not limited to, Eau Claire, River Falls, Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, the Emergency Services Education Center, the Manufacturing Education Center, a new Transportation Education Center, and land near the current River Falls Campus?"

Prior to taking action, the board authorized a community survey to gauge support for various facilities projects and tolerance for the tax impact and held a public hearing on the proposal.

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