EAU CLAIRE -- The Chippewa Valley Technical College District Board passed a resolution Thursday, Dec. 5, stating its intent to issue $48.8 million in bonds to fund facilities projects to address regional workforce needs.

The resolution is a preliminary step toward a potential referendum in the spring 2020 election. The next step is a public hearing 5:30 p.m.Thursday, Dec. 19, in the Business Education Center, 620 West Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire.

Following the outcome of today’s hearing, the board may decide to proceed with a ballot resolution that would be considered at a Jan. 16 meeting.

In September, the CVTC board authorized a survey of district residents conducted by School Perceptions LLC to gauge support for facilities projects and public tolerance of the property tax impact. The consultant determined that a referendum of $55 million or slightly less would be the amount most likely to have success.

If a $48.8 million referendum passes, the tax impact would be spread over the 11-county district, resulting in an average property tax increase of $13 per year on $100,000 of equalized property value.

The $48.8 million would not fund all of the projects submitted to the public in the survey. The CVTC board must still determine exactly which projects would be proposed in the referendum.

CVTC President Bruce Barker said a referendum would most likely include the projects identified as the greatest area of need by the community. One potential project includes a modern transportation center to help address labor shortages, advancements in technology and environmental concerns in the transportation sector. Others under consideration to support workforce needs include facility upgrades for first responder education and training, healthcare and robotic welding labs, and increased access at regional campuses and rural communities, including a land purchase in River Falls.

“Some of our initial plans would have to be scaled back to keep within the determined referendum amount,” Barker said. “We will be working hard to determine the projects of highest priority, with an emphasis on meeting the workforce needs of the region.”