Does this region need a new facility on the Cape Fear Community College campus – built courtesy of New Hanover County taxpayers?
That’s the question facing county commissioners – and one they will vote on in a couple of weeks.
At Monday's County Commission meeting, CFCC officials asked for another $40 million in bonds to fund construction of the Advanced and Emerging Technologies Center.
Voters already green-lighted the issuance of $164 million in bonds back in 2008. Most of that money has gone to the construction of a parking deck, the Union Station building, and CFCC’s new, not-yet-completed Humanities and Fine Arts Center.
But enrollment is higher than originally projected, says CFCC President Ted Spring, and the region’s economic growth depends on having the space to train more workers.
"I think this is the right decision to move forward on this construction project and the release of these bond monies for many, many reasons. We have people we need to put to work. We have programs that we need to expand. We’ve already invested $2 million in this project. This is a project that will create new jobs for our citizens in this county."
Commissioner Woody White disputes the notion that enrollment is up; in fact, says White, according to a Master Facilities Plan, which contains numbers that are published by the state, enrollment is down.
White also says voters approved the construction of a certain number of square feet which has been delivered in the form of the three new structures on the CFCC Campus. That shouldn't necessarily translate into using the entire $164 million just because it could be available.
"And now we have $40 million plus we’re being asked to spend for another building. And this isn’t a fight with the community college. This is a much larger picture of us at some point learning how to live within our means as a county government and trying, slowly, to wean ourselves off of debt."
Commissioners will vote at their next regular meeting on whether to submit an application to the Local Government Commission for the issuance of those bonds.