With a new president behind the wheel and about 25 percent of the $250 million voter-approved Measure L Bond from 2004 remaining, the Delta College Board of Trustees voted to put the brakes on any future Measure L projects.
The decision to initiate a limited suspension of new Measure L Bond construction projects, voted on at a July 19 board meeting, was made so the college can make the best plan for using the remaining estimated $60 million of the bond.
"The limited suspension will allow Delta College to ensure that taxpayers obtain the most bang for the buck with the remaining Measure L funds," Delta College Superintendent/President Jeff Marsee said in a press release. "As the college evaluates how to effectively allocate the remaining funds, we are exploring opportunities for additional state matching funds to supplement planned projects. It's a win-win for Delta College and the taxpayer."
The $250 million bond was given to Delta to upgrade its infrastructure and renovate or build new facilities. Over the last three years, the bond has funded several projects, including building Delta's Mountain House campus in Tracy, the Lawrence and Alma DeRicco Student Services Building, the Lee Belarmino Sr. District Data Center, renovations to physical education, recreation and athletic facilities including the football, baseball, softball and track and field venues, and Irving Goleman Library renovations.
The $69 million Math and Science Center, which includes $22 million of state funding, is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2012.
"This suspension will not end any planned Measure L projects or affect current construction," Marsee said. "However, the temporary hold will allow the college to step back and assess new approaches to obtain the maximum return with the remaining Measure L funds."
In 2008, a San Joaquin Country Grand Jury report accussed the board of mismanaging Measure L Bond funds and wasting millions of dollars. Since then, six of the seven trustees have retired, resigned or been replaced in elections.
Taj Khan, the Delta trustee who represents Lodi, said he voted in favor of putting the brakes on Measure L spending. He believes the school needs to look at a lot of factors, including its newly reconstructed educational plan, which projects the state of California will match funds for and what impacts the budget crisis could have on certain programs before moving forward.
"I think it was an excellent idea because we have a new chief executive and he needs to look at everything and figure out if we are spending this money wisely and if we should do these projects we have planned or look at new ones," Khan said. "I think a lot of things are happening simultaneously and we need to slow things down and look at it more carefully."
The limited suspension will now allow the college to revisit plans like whether or not to go forward with a $13.3 million Shima building renovation to Delta Caterpillar Technician Program and what to do about establishing a presence in Lodi.
"The board and Dr. Marsee are all in agreement that we have to do something in Lodi and provide a center or small campus," Khan said. "We just need to look at when and how."
Khan said Delta College is in a transitional period right now and that puts a lot of things up in the air. The ongoing budget crisis and not knowing how many students the state will allow Delta to accommodate will affect what kinds of programs the school will offer along with how much growth there can be.
"We are all committed to doing something in Lodi; what shape and what form are issues that need to be addressed," Khan said. "Whether we want to build a new building, buy one, lease something or work a deal out with Lodi Unified School District, there are a lot of different options that we need to investigate."
Contact reporter Joelle Milholm at firstname.lastname@example.org.