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Voters have yet to approve the $600 million in new debt Collin College is requesting, but that hasn’t stopped officials from agreeing to spend $10.7 million on land for a proposed technical training center in Allen they expect to pay for with that debt.

The community college’s Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to approve the purchase of a 32-acre tract near the intersection of SH121 and Alma Road, adjacent to a 10-acre site owned by Allen ISD, for the planned facility.

The Collin Technical Center is part of the college’s Master Plan to expand its physical footprint over the next five years. “Package 1A” of the plan, which includes the technical center and other projects, has an estimated price tag of $271,205,253. The college hopes to fund it and two other building “packages” with the huge $600 million bond issue that will be on the May 6 ballot.

However, one board member publicly admitted the building plans will go forward regardless of whether Collin County voters approve the May bond:

“Whether the bond passes or not, we will be moving forward with the master plan,” trustee Adrian Rodriguez said.

Collin County residents have expressed concern about the enormity of the college’s all-or-nothing debt request. Many question why the board didn’t propose multiple smaller bond packages, corresponding to the three separate building packages in the Master Plan, for example

At a March 9 forum, Collin College trustee candidates responded to those concerns by saying that voters elect trustees “to make those hard decisions” and should “trust us” to spend taxpayer dollars responsibly. If we don’t, trustees said, they can “vote us out” of office.

Only one trustee, Mac Hendricks, voted against ratifying the land purchase. He wanted to add an opt-out provision in case voters don’t approve the May bond proposition. Hendricks was also the only trustee to vote against the board’s $600 million bond request, saying the amount was simply too big.

Not everyone agrees that the bond is too big. A political action committee called Citizens For Collin College is urging a “YES” vote on the bond, though the group fails to mention the bond’s $600 million price tag in any of its advertising.

If voters reject the $600 million bond proposition in May, the board must present another debt option or series of options – which it can do in November – in order to pay for new facilities, including the technical training center for which they’ve already committed to purchase land.

Collin County taxpayers need to consider how much of their money they’re willing to trust Collin College’s board to spend responsibly without further approval and vote accordingly. Election Day is Saturday, May 6; Early Voting starts April 24.