IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Voters in Bonneville County said yes to changing Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college.
The final unofficial results were 10,213 or 71.42% to 4,086 or 28.58%.
The vote will create a taxing district in Bonneville County to fund the college. Supports said taxpayers would see a 3 percent increase in property taxes.
Supporters said the start-up cost for the community college would be about $800,000, according to an economic impact study completed in August 2016. Student tuition and fees, liquor taxes and the $5 million set-aside from the legislature would pay for the rest.
Supporters who gathered for a watch party at the Hilton Garden Inn cheered as the final results were displayed.
During the celebration Mario Hernandez, Citizens for Affordable Higher Education said, "What a great night for Bonneville County." He continued, "Those of us with the campaign to create a community college are so, so grateful to the voters. Thank You. " "This new College of Eastern Idaho will open for business this fall. We're looking forward to expanding technical programs and affordable education for those looking to get degrees. We will see more dual credits for our high school students, new local jobs and a new tool in a tool box for economic development. Now is the time for our area to join together and embrace our new college," he said.
Mark Fuller, Chairman for the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee said in a written statement, "The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee congratulates those who worked so hard in a spirited campaign to pass the community college taxing district measure in Bonneville County. The fact that it passed with a super majority of the vote shows that the people of Bonneville County overwhelmingly support a local community college. We encourage those who are appointed to the community college taxing district board of trustees to honor the proponents’ pledge and impose taxes against Bonneville County real property at no more than the $862,000 per year, for six years, as promised during the campaign. We further look forward to working with local board members and others to make the new Eastern Idaho Community College a success."
Idaho State University officials released a statement on the passing of the community college saying, "Idaho State University acknowledges the importance of postsecondary education in Idaho Falls, and we look forward to closely collaborating with the new community college to jointly advance higher education opportunities. ISU will continue to serve the community of Idaho Falls through our existing campus and the future polytechnic institute."