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Our View: Scaling back MCC’s plans

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

We applaud McHenry County College trustees and administrators for recognizing what we’ve been saying for months: Expansion plans at MCC have been overly ambitious and could be too taxing on taxpayers.

Last week, trustees agreed to scale back a proposal to construct a new health science and fitness facility at the Crystal Lake-based community college. After touring existing facilities, trustees said a proposed $40 million-plus facility with 43,000 square feet for health fitness space for features such as a lap pool and track was not needed to meet the personal trainer and health education program needs.

Of course, what hasn’t been agreed upon among trustees is how much space is needed to meet program needs. There is some doubt in higher enrollment projections provided in feasibility studies. Questions remain about whether existing space at the college can be repurposed to meet the program’s needs or whether expanding existing facilities are better options than constructing new buildings.

MCC President Vicky Smith said neither possibility would be a likely fix, saying the college has maximized space and there is limited room to expand off structures.

Still in question, too, is how MCC plans to pay for any of this.

No revenue stream has been identified to fund the project. Under consideration is, of course, issuing alternative revenue bonds, which then put taxpayers at risk.

Alternative revenue bonds rely on an identified revenue stream to pay them off. But if revenue falls short of projections, taxpayers are left to make up the difference through property taxes.

Regardless, the recognition that the plan should be scaled back is the kind of action voters expected when they decided to elect new blood onto the MCC board.

For taxpayers’ sake, we hope this kind of more responsible thinking continues as the college moves forward.

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