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Terry Nichols: Technical college district boards aren't accountable

Terry Nichols: Technical college district boards aren't accountable

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The Wisconsin Technical College system routinely borrows millions every year and that is a fact. What is also a fact is that this yearly borrowing of the Technical Colleges System is not a report at the state level.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which is the nonpartisan financial state watchdog on spending, has acknowledged that to me many times over the years. So much for accountability and transparency at the state level.

I have been attending the Chippewa Valley Tech board meetings for years until the coronavirus changed many things. I still can read the board minutes, and I do.

Most recently I noticed a borrowing of $4.25 million in the CVTC’s Board meeting minutes, also $11.125 million listed as well. I reached out to my 67th District Rep, Rep. Rob Summerfield office for some answers. Here is the reply:

Hi Terry,

Thank you for reaching out.


The $4.25 million is part of annual borrowing by the technical college. The technical college tends to borrow between $5-6 million every year for various improvements around their campus, whether those funds are used for building repairs or informational systems updates. The CVTC Board has a policy that their borrowing cannot be more than 10-15% of their operating costs.

The $11.125 million is part of the referendum that was approved in April.

So, the 16 tech districts in this state which have appointed district boards and not elected boards, have the ability to borrow millions every year with the local property taxpayers getting the tab in these districts.

This is not a representative democracy.

Dunn County will have a referendum question in the November election asking for $5 million over five years. Dunn County Board of Supervisors are elected, that is a representative democracy.

Maybe Dunn County can adopt the funding model of the Tech College System and routinely borrow $5 million to $6 million every year to put out financial fires; think it would pass?

Terry Nichols, town of Colfax


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