JANESVILLE

Blackhawk Technical College’s district board unanimously approved the sale of its transportation services building Wednesday, advancing its plan to consolidate more of its operations at one main campus.

The college has an agreement to sell the building, which currently houses the school’s auto and diesel programs at 1740 W. Highway 14, Janesville, to Janesville company End Game LLC. The sale was for $1.25 million.

“We’ve been trying to sell this building for four years,” board Chairman Eric Thornton said Wednesday. “This is a great day.”

A new public safety and transportation training center at Blackhawk Tech’s main campus south of Janesville is on the ballot in November as part of a referendum proposal. The auto and diesel programs would move into a new building if the referendum passes.

Multiple offers to buy the current building had been submitted in recent years, but the college couldn’t accept them because its auto and diesel program would lose its home, said Jennifer Thompson, Blackhawk Tech’s executive director of marketing and communications.

The sale is contingent on the pending referendum—if the referendum fails, the sale would be voided and the college would keep the building. There is no clause in the sale agreement that would require the college to pay a contingency fee if this happens.

Under the agreement with End Game LLC, the college would rent part of the building so the auto and diesel programs could still be housed there during construction of new college facilities.

The $1.25 million earned from the sale would go toward the referendum project, slightly reducing the cost to taxpayers.

“Part of the public transportation center is moving the auto and diesel program, and so the sale of the current auto and diesel facility ... would allow us to reinvest that into the space here on central campus,” Thompson said.

The owner of a $100,000 home in the college’s taxing district, which covers most of Rock and Green counties, currently pays $59 a year to Blackhawk Tech in taxes.

If passed, the referendum was expected to push this number to $62 in year one and keep it at $62 in year two before it drops to $61 in the third year and $60 in year four.

The numbers would continue to drop before the debt is paid off in 20 years, and taxes would return to normal levels by year five, Thompson said. This is possible because the college will be retiring other debt.

The sale of the current transportation studies building would likely reduce the property tax increases, but the college didn’t have those new estimates available Wednesday, Thompson said.

Because the referendum question asks for “up to” $32 million, a new question will not be crafted and ballots will not need to be reprinted, according to Thompson.

In other business:

  • Enrollment looked bleak for the fall semester just one month ago, but a late surge has the college close to a typical year. Thirty days prior to the first day of classes, BTC was looking at a 15% decline in enrollment. By the first day, the decline was just 2%.
  • Free testing for COVID-19 will be available to students and faculty for at least the fall semester. Free flu shots will also be available.
  • College President Tracy Pierner said there have been no confirmed cases that originated from campus, but he hopes students and faculty continue to follow precautions.
  • The college continues to see fewer students on campus thanks to MyEdChoice, which allows students to attend class from home, if possible. Some staff could begin to work remotely to match this need.
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