BCC, state parks could get boost from Connect NC Bond

By: Erin Smith - erinsmith@civitasmedia.com

RALEIGH — The Connect NC Bond passed the Senate side of the General Assemby on Wednesday and will now be sent to the House for vote, but State Rep. William Brisson said on Thursday that House members haven’t yet seen the $2 billion bill. However, should the bill pass as presented, Bladen County stands to receive just under $8 million.

He added that the community colleges seem to like the bill and are excited about it. Brisson said if it is adopted by the House, then it will be placed on the Presidential Primary ballot in March 2016.

“I think probably, unless there are some unseen things in it we haven’t talked about, a pretty good majority will support it,” said Brisson.

He added that his understanding of the comprise proposal adds about $100 million to the original bill.

The negotiated House and Senate agreement includes the following:

— A total of $350 million for the community college system and $980 million for the UNC system.

— The bonds, if approved by the voters, are to be used for construction, repairs and renovations.

— If the bond funds are used for repairs and renovations there will be no required local matching funds. If the bonds are used for new construction, there will be required matching funds.

This proposal is a trimmed down version of the bond proposal that has been touted for several months by Gov. Pat McCrory. The package that McCrory proposed included funds for highway construction, the Senate-House version does not.

The Senate version does include an additional $45 million for repairs and renovations at schools in the UNC system and $350 million for community colleges, down from the original $400 million proposed.

According to Bladen Community College President William Findt, the Connect NC Bond would be a great benefit to the school.

“It will mean a little more than $5 million if it is passed by the state,” said Findt.

The college has plans for a new building they hope to construct if the bond is passed by North Carolina voters in March 2016.

“We already have plans drawn for a building for workforce development,” said Findt.

The proposed building will be 21,000 square feet and include space for a chemistry lab, a computer lab, and classrooms. Findt said the building will also offer some open space for industrial training.

“It’s a building we will devote for training programs for folks to gain the (work) skills they need,” said Findt.

Findt said, currently, the buildings on BCC’s campus are 20 years old and outdated.

According to the proposed measure, Bladen Community College will receive $6.5 million for construction, repairs and renovations. There will be a $1 for every $3 matching funds requirement.

Fayetteville Technical Community College would stand to receive $10.6 million for construction, repairs and renovations; Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington would receive $5.9 million for construction, repairs and renovations; Robeson Community College would receive $7.2 million for construction, repairs and renovations; Sampson Community College in Clinton would receive $4.7 million for construction, repairs and renovations; Southeastern Community College in Whiteville would receive $6.8 million for construction, repairs and renovations.

Other items included in the Senate-House proposal include $85 million for a Plant Sciences Building at NC State University and $94 million in funds for a Veterinary/Food/Drug/Motor Fuels lab at the Agricultural and Consumer Science building; projects for the State Parks. Jones Lake State Park would receive $651,750 and Singletary Lake would receive $575,250 and $85. million for a public safety project in Moore County.

Erin Smith can be reached at 910-862-4163.



Erin Smith