Annexation ballots in mail for college vote

Hood River County voters will soon decide whether to become part of the Columbia Gorge Community College District (CGCCD).

Lee Shissler, county elections supervisor, said mail ballots for the special election will be posted by the end of the week and need to be returned to the county courthouse by 8 p.m. on Nov. 6. Postmarks will not count.

Measure 33-35 asks voters whether Hood River County, the majority of which is not currently in a community college district, should join The Dalles campus. That would bring more local courses and a home branch for extended educational and training opportunities.

The cost for annexation would be 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. For the average homeowner of a $150,000 house, that would tabulate out to $40.50 per year, according to Mike Schend, coordinator of the Hood River public information effort.

He said the annexation will not affect Wasco County property taxes or current college services and, conversely, Hood River would not be responsible for existing debt. Because neighboring Wasco County has a higher population base, it will have one more seat than Hood River on the seven-member board. However, Schend said that ratio would shift as citizen growth changes in each area.

The Hood River Annexation Advisory Committee recommended that the issue be brought before voters after a special survey in the summer of 2000 revealed that between 85-92 percent of respondents wanted more local educational opportunities. According to CGCC records, last year 1,511 students attended classes held in Hood River and 758 residents traveled to The Dalles for courses.

Of the students taking classes locally, 20 percent were enrolled in transfer classes, eight percent in professional/technical training, 16 percent in person enrichment courses and 56 percent to learn basic skills.

Although initially Mt. Hood was also under consideration, college officials at that location chose not to participate in the annexation process.

Shissler said the ballot will include a map of the proposed annexation area, which excludes Cascade Locks because it is already tied into the Mt. Hood Community College District and a few property owners at the southern edge of the county.

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