Tri-C asks for help from Cuyahoga County residents with Issue 61

Posted at 6:35 AM, Oct 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-30 06:37:35-04

Voters this time of year are used to cities, school districts and other entities coming to them with hat in hand asking for help in the form of a levy of some sort, very often comparing the impact of the tax increase to a cup of Starbucks coffee. 

Well the last time Cuyahoga Community College issued such a plea, Starbucks wasn't even around, that's because this is their first levy since 1963 —one that helped fund the construction of what was the state's first community college and today remains the largest, never going back to voters to ask for more.

"You know there really has not been the need," said Tri-C President Alex Johnson.

That changed though in recent years as cuts in state funding to higher education funding coupled with aging buildings, some original to the campus, have prompted the college to put Issue 61 on the ballot. The 0.5 mill increase would raise $227 million over the next 25 years that will enable the college to maintain what they have while expanding to meet the demands of changing needs in training workers.

"So we find ourselves not only looking for additional funds for offset operating but also to really develop facilities that our modern and meet workforce needs," Johnson said. That's important because those workers Tri-C trains tend to stay and work in the Northeast Ohio community.

"For every county dollar invested in Tri-C at this moment, the return is $11.50," Johnson said.  "That's a tremendous, tremendous investment in our community."

It's also what helps to lure employers to the region Johnson said, pointing to Amazon's decision to bring 2,000 jobs to the county with two new fulfillment centers announced in the last few months.

"Part of the reason they selected us for those two sites one in Euclid and the other in North Randal is because they know that we can create a viable workforce," he said. "So in addition to the Issue promoting workforce development it also will promote economic development as well."

Johnson said in 2013 the college graduated 900 students with what they call viable workforce certificates or certifications that enable them to land quality jobs providing family-sustaining wages. This year alone they're looking to graduate 14,000 with the same type of credentials and certifications.

"This is an important moment not only for Tri-C but for our community and our county as well."

The impact on county homeowners is $18 a year for every $100,000 of assessed evaluation or $1.50 a month which is technically less than a Starbucks Coffee.