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Supporters hold out hope for Measure B

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Gold Country News Service
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Voters from parts of Placer, Sacramento and El Dorado counties encompassed within Sierra Joint Community College District boundaries were asked to consider Measure B, a $78.2 million bond measure. As of 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, 12,131 of Placer County voters favored the bond measure, while 16,530 were opposed. The Sacramento County elections division reported that the measure was winning 645 votes to 563 votes against, and El Dorado County's elections division reported 258 in favor of the measure and 377. If approved by 55 percent of the voters, Measure B's $78.2 million would go to repairing - among other things - sewers, roofs, decaying walls, plumbing and electrical systems and labs at the crumbling Rocklin campus. Bond money would also go to providing training, purchasing equipment and upgrading computer technology. The passing of Measure B would add an annual tax of around $7 per $100,000 of assessed property value for the next 25 years. "I hope the voters see the need and support Sierra College," said Sierra College spokeswoman Sue Michaels, speaking for Dr. Morgan Lynn, interim president of the college. And if the measure doesn't pass? "Well, that's tomorrow morning's job," Michaels said, speaking for Lynn. Advocates on the Measure B campaign worked phone banks, calling voters up until Monday, campaign consultant Raquel Simental said. "We're in the hands of the voters now," Simental said Tuesday afternoon. The argument in favor of Measure B states that most of Sierra College's classrooms and buildings are more than 40 years old and in need of repair and renovation. Argument for the measure says there is no state funding for this repair and renovation, so "it's up to local residents to meet the challenge," voter information reads. Funds may not be spent on administrative programs or salaries, and a Citizens' Taxpayer Oversight Committee will be formed and independent audits conducted to make sure the money is being used as it's supposed to be. Scott Leslie, a Sierra College trustee and Measure B advocate, said approving repairs now will cost voters less than attempting to pass another bond later, because the campus isn't getting any younger. "The need is urgent," he told Gold Country Media on Monday. "We're not asking for everything. We're just asking for a basic investment for today." Measure B, although no small change, may look so in comparison to the $394 million Measure E, which voters rejected in March 2004. When the district was examined to determine who would pay for the bond, Lincoln voters and the promise of a future Sierra College facility in Lincoln were excluded, Sierra College Foundation President Bill Halldin told Gold Country Media in April. Those opposing Measure B say it's an unfair tax because of the Lincoln exclusion. "Lincoln-area voters, which includes the Western Placer Unified School District... will not vote on it, nor will they pay the burden of the tax, but the students will use the facilities," Phil Ozenick, former Roseville mayor and Placer County supervisor, told Gold Country Media on Monday. Ozenick said he and other Roseville-area homeowners are already paying taxes for five school bonds, and he'd prefer not paying for a sixth.