COLUMBUS (WCMH) — During Tuesday’s primary election, Franklin County voters backed a measure to give Columbus State Community College a long-term financial boost.
Unofficial results Wednesday morning showed Issue 21 passing with 59.6 percent yes votes and 40.4 percent no votes. The approved tax on Franklin County properties is estimated to generate around $300 million over the next 24 years.
CSCC says the investment positions the college to upgrade 200 classrooms and labs. Many of the improvements will fix outdated technology and deteriorating infrastructure on the aging campus.
“[We’re going to] take these buildings that are 40, 50 years old and put them to work for the next generation of workforce,” said Dr. David Harrison, the president of Columbus State Community College.
The college offers 2-year technical degrees and also touts itself as an affordable option for students looking to transfer into bachelor degree programs at 4-year universities.
“The ability of Columbus State to provide affordable pathways to really good, sustainable careers is going to be something that’s more important than it ever has been to the community,” Dr. Harrison said of the expected economic downturn.
Some opponents of Issue 21 believe it’s unwise to increase property taxes while many families are starting to experience financial hardship.
“It’s going to have an impact on what people can afford for groceries, for medicine and for rent,” said Joe Montil of Taxpayers Advocating Fair Taxation (TAFT).
The group also took issue with taxpayers in a single county paying for an institution serving students from across the state. Montil said state lawmakers should include the funding in Ohio’s budget.
“It boils down to a lack of prioritizing a lack of post-secondary education,” he explained. “And it’s unfair to ask the voters of a certain area to raise their property taxes.”
Dr. Harrison said presenting the levy to taxpayers was the easiest way to expedite critical improvements. He also defended the value the college adds to the local economy.
“We’re really positioned as the workforce engine for the community,” Dr. Harrison said. “Programs like information technology and healthcare are frankly even more important now, as a result of this pandemic, than they were before.”
The 0.65 mill levy applies to 35 percent of property values. The owners of a $100,000 home, for example, will be charged an additional $22.75 per year for the next 24 years.