Voters approve Harper College borrowing plan

 
 
Updated 11/6/2018 11:08 PM
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With 91 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday, 61 percent of voters gave support to Harper College's plan to borrow money for an upgrade of its Palatine campus.

According to the unofficial returns, 95,285 voters cast "yes" ballots and 60,694 said "no."

"We're really encouraged about the results," Harper College President Ken Ender said. "The college has historically been a really great steward of the community investment."

Ender added that he saw signs of support during the informational campaign for the referendum.

"We never saw a surge of resistance," he said. "We saw people who asked good questions."

The referendum question asked voters to keep their taxes to Harper College at current levels rather than let them drop due to the expiration of a prior borrowing initiative.

The new request was to borrow $180 million for a mix of new construction, additions and building rehab projects.

Voters' rejection of the proposal would have cut taxes by about $23 for the owner of a $250,000 house.

But voter approval will allow bonds to be sold as early as 2020, with construction starting in 2020 or 2021.

The referendum's proposed "priority projects" include:

• A new $28.5 million, 43,000-square-foot building to house a regional economic development hub and the college's University Center, where students can complete bachelor's degrees by way of Harper's partnerships with Northern Illinois University, DePaul University and Roosevelt University.

• Renovations totaling $88.7 million to older buildings on campus that house academic programs such as accounting, business and education, and expansion of classrooms for health careers and manufacturing.

• Infrastructure improvements worth $62.8 million, including roofs, electrical, plumbing and technology.

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