Can CWI Trustees Be Trusted?

Good piece in the Daily Paper today by Bill Roberts about financial woes at the new community college that isn’t.

He reports College of Western Idaho trustees are facing growing costs and uncertainty about property tax levies. Like Bill Clinton’s debate of “what IS is,” there seems to be a question of the details of the campaign pledge–was it to a tax RATE or to a dollar figure?

It appers to the GUARDIAN that voters actually authorized a tax rate nearly 10 times what we were promised in the campaign literature favoring the new institution.

Here is what “INSIDER” wrote for the GUARDIAN on April 2, 2007:

“The numbers don’t add up. When asked by the Albertson Foundation for a proposal to start a community college, TVCC proposed an $18 million startup cost. Boise State’s internal proposal for spinning off and establishing a community college was a $71 million, and while that was surely larded with a lot of wishlists, it’s still more consistent with the real costs of establishing a comprehensive community college than $4 million. The proposed levy that voters are being asked to vote on is either poorly researched (unlikely), or being lowballed to make it more palatable to voters. Either option should raise some significant concerns for voters.”

We have little doubt the old adage of “Forgiveness is more easily obtained than permission,” will prevail.

For some insightful reading, check out the past postings–and comments– from a year ago:



Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The short answer to your question Guardian is, absolutely not!! The only thing these folks brought to the table was their credibility and now that it’s gone, they got nothing to offer. Many of us called this correctly last year, and now it’s time for those that lied to the public about this whole charade to fess up and pay the price! Let’s see some names here. We can use it as a kind of a “voter guide” in the future!

  2. Dave, for exactly the reasons you cite, I have a standard rule to vote “NO” any time I am asked if I’m willing to raise taxes.

    It’s a matter of principle.

    I’ve voted NO on several very worthy-sounding expenditures over the years.

    I feel I’m adequately taxed for the government services we receive at my household. And I worry that a “yes” vote sends my “public servants” a message that there’s more left to give. For a lot of them, it’s the government’s job to care for every need of every citizen. Education, health care, job training, wide open recreational land, bad mortgages, river going over its banks… you name it.

    Like you I predict an apology (after all, they couldn’t have forecast the economic downturn) and a tax increase. And a couple years for the pain to subside, then repeat as needed.

  3. Dr Spiegelvogel
    Jun 30, 2008, 2:31 pm

    It seems that before the University of Idaho Water Center scandal, the public had reasonable expectation that educators were somehow above run of the mill political disinformation. The current scam is Strike Two! With only 1/3 credibility remaining, its time to put all the facts out to the public and reconfirm with another public approval the actual tax increase this worthy cause will carry.

  4. Lib.Redneck
    Jun 30, 2008, 4:04 pm

    How about a Virtual College of Western Idaho. No new roads. No additional farm land paved. Access for anyone with a library card. Zero increase of traffic. Very low overhead. Affordable tuition. Simple.

  5. Ah, what a good idea: A college designed by people who can’t even do basic math and don’t have the integrity to deal fairly with the people they want to pay for it.

    Sign me up! I reckon I could get two or three degrees in some high-falutin’ stuff real quicklike, especially seein’ as how they probably wouldn’t care (or even know) if I cheat on all the tests.

    Then probly I could get me a good job, maybe as a college perfesser there, or maybe as a CEO at some big bidness.

    Or, we could save them a lot of money by not even bothering with classes and tests and all that stuff. They could just mail me a bunch of degrees right now, and I’ll just pick out the ones I want to use.

  6. What is funny, metaphorically speaking, is that my same questions from my original article from March 2007 referenced in this post still remain unanswered. And, as “Insider” originally wrote, the costs didn’t add up and it’s clear now that this individual was correct. So, as a CC taxpayer, I will have to fork out additional funds, in a down economy with increasing cost of life, for some 2nd rate institution that will not increase the overall quality of life for this community.

    I have to agree with the Guardian on this one on the issue of permission vs. forgiveness. It is becoming more clear that this was the original strategy all along…Approve a smaller tax increase and then come back for more with a “we can’t stop now” attitude. This is so egregious that a more organized opposition needs to hold CWI trustees accountable for their pledge and where they are now.

  7. Steve Ackerman
    Jun 30, 2008, 11:36 pm

    Tim Rhodes hit the nail on the head. He raised the concern over the fact that Canyon County might not have the tax base to handle the future funding requirements.

    My concern was why there was no effort to develop a region-wide, multi-county institution. From ISU and UI to BYU, each of these schools can tap multiple funding sources to count on for sustainability. Or even some kind of joint public-private partnership that leveraged hospital, high-tech, and other local corporate interests. Why not disperse the tax burden in case of a downturn in the economy — as we’re seeing — and relieve taxpayers like Mr. Rhodes and others from having to handle that burden on their own?

    Further, if we’re going to have a community college that would need high enrollment to address future rising costs, then reaching out to the widest available student pool makes sense.

    At the time, Community College Now and others claimed that the goals would certainly be met by student enrollment projections, upfront award monies, and, I assume, a low-cost operations strategy. Hiring adjuncts can deal with some of the operational expenses, however that requires expertise in volume. Also, as “insider” cited, there were some hefty costs connected with BSU’s relieving of its “community college” responsibilities. An issue that was not fully fleshed out from what I could recall.

    Thus, we fall back to taxpayers like Mr. Rhodes, as well as others like “Insider” who raised concerns over future funding sustainability. Exactly how much would the cost rise? Could such a rise maintain a robust and growing program, be competitive with private and other peer institutions, and hold a low tuition level to capture needed enrollment numbers?

    We appear to have left the taxpayers of Canyon County with the worst of choices: Either pour increasing tax dollars into CWI — to an unknown extent, or scrap the idea and lose the progress that was made. Thank you.

  8. Mr. Ackerman;

    I agree with all your points except one: “Further, if we’re going to have a community college that would need high enrollment to address future rising costs”

    High enrollment only helps to an extent. Since the cost of tuition paid by the student only pays for a portion of the actual cost, maybe about 1/3-1/2, then for each additional student, more money is needed from the tax base. Higher enrollment actually means higher subsidies to CWI. I do not know any higher ed institution, small or enormous that does not consider themselves underfunded and cash starved.

    What bothers me most is the trustees of CWI and their supporters knew all along that the true cost of CWI was much larger than the unsustainable but palatable amount they sold to the voters. It is evident they knew this as they wove into the package the ability to increase the tax levy by 10 times. Can somebody tell me if they have to go to the voters to increase the levy at all, or are they authorized to increase the levy up to 10 times without further voter approval? thanks

  9. Steve Ackerman
    Jul 7, 2008, 4:53 pm

    JJ raises an informative point that should further unsettle us. If each additional student covers only up to 1/2 of the additional per student costs, then what was CWI’s plan to capture monies in the long-term outside of property taxes?

    My understanding was that the monies from Albertson’s College and other education and non-education organizations was designed primarily to get CWI off the ground.

    What was the long-term strategy to cover the costs that JJ, Mr. Rhodes, Insider, and others have raised? CWI board members saying they didn’t realize they could not raise property taxes further than, I think, the three-percent level on every $100K is not an adequate answer. With all due respect, the CWI board needs to provide a long-term funding strategy to the taxpayers.

    Property taxes cannot carry the entire burden. Growing up in California taught many people that lesson — the hard way. This may be time for more joint private-public partnerships, more targeted and yes, circumscribed curriculum, and/or other remedies.

    If they choose to raise the cost of tuition, then they’ve undermined an important competitive differentiator community colleges are supposed to provide: job-ready graduates at a low-cost. Otherwise, why not go to BSU or even a private technical school? The latter would probably already have relationships with local businesses that would give students an edge in its hiring out of college offering. Thank you.

  10. Dave Ackerman – the public private partnership was the private companies whined about how they needed this educational training in order to hire employees and the public were the suckers that voted for this pig in a poke on a promise that costs would be held low – a now seemingly empty promise.

    What is highly irritating about this story is the “cost” to CWI of BSU’s parking lot and furniture. We, the taxpayers have already paid for these items once, it would be a crime if we had to pay again.

    The only good thing that might, and I say might, come out of this perfidy, is that voters might wake up, do their homework and never, ever again just take somebodies word for a “good thing” that will “benefit the community”. You all know we had a community college in Canyon County right? It was TVCC and they would have expanded at no cost to the property tax. Oh but then it wouldn’t have been under “Idaho” control. Bah.

  11. Steve Ackerman
    Jul 10, 2008, 9:16 pm

    Good point Sara, as I mentioned, the future costs to relieve BSU out of this were not fleshed out as well as they should have been. Also, nobody checked on the percentage limits available from property taxes?

    And we couldn’t have a private-public partnership that required private companies cover some of the costs for potential employees? Schools work out such arrangements all the time. Maybe they were in place, but it seems that could have been a way to address long-term, ongoing costs. Thank you.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: