On Nov. 2, voters will be asked to allow Madison College to borrow $133,770,000 for new construction. If approved, the bond will take 20 years to pay off. The impact on the owner of a $200,000 home will be $27.52 a year for the first 10 years, after which it will drop.
This is no small request during a major recession.
Madison College spokeswoman Ellen Foley says the expansion is about economic development for the 12-county region served by the school.
"We know voters are very concerned about jobs - not the economy, not taxes, but jobs," Foley says. "Our mission here is to train people for jobs that are available."
Foley says the referendum has the potential to give "a tremendous boost to the economic life of our community through the jobs we'll create."
The expansion will focus on three areas: sustainable green manufacturing, health education, and fire and protective services.
About $43 million will be used to build a health education center at the Truax Campus, with classrooms and a health clinic open to the public. This is intended to address a project shortage of nurses, technicians and health aides as current workers begin retiring.
"We don't have the facility to quickly train lots of health workers," Foley says. "Our waiting list for nurses is about three years long, with about 300 people on the waiting list."
The expansion of green job training facilities will better replicate the modern factory. "We need to update our equipment, so [students] can learn what it's like in a real-life factory. It doesn't look like a classroom. It's a really big room with really big machinery."
What if the public finds $133 million too much to swallow?
"If voters don't feel they can support us right now, we'll start again," says Foley, noting that the college originally was going to ask for $380 million. "We'll talk to them and find out what they can support. But we need to move forward, not by any wish of the administrators, but because we have 40,000 students coming to us who need retraining."
This story has been corrected to note that the college was originally seeking $380 million for the referendum, and its approximate enrollment of 40,000 students.