HCC makes pitch for continued building plan
Haywood Community College has asked for more than $1.4 million from the county for building and renovations projects on campus in the coming fiscal year.
That’s $1.25 million more than the college got this year for capital projects.
Before the recession, HCC got between $400,000 and $500,000 a year for capital projects, but that amount was cut to about $170,000 during the recession.
Now, college leaders say they need to play catch up.
“These are things that we feel like the college needs to do now,” said Bill Dechant, director of campus development for HCC.
The county wouldn’t necessarily have to dip into its own coffers to come up with the increase the college is seeking, however.
The community college has at its disposal revenue from a quarter cent sale tax increase that was approved about five years ago. The revenues from the tax are specifically earmarked for the college’s construction projects.
The annual sales tax revenue, which totals about $1 million a year, is placed in a special county fund.
Right now, all the money the tax brings in annually is spoken for to pay off debt on a new $10 million Creative Arts building. But there was $1.1 million funds that had accrued in the fund previously that could be tapped.
Topping the priority list is an emergency services training facility, which isn’t actually included in the budget request.
“There is a world of interest in that happening,” said Interim HCC President Bill Aiken.
The college already has $600,000 to pay for the first phase of the project, which includes a live burn tower and an emergency training tower, thanks to flood settlement money HCC squirreled away in 2004.
The final phase of the project is the construction of a classroom building. HCC officials estimated the cost of phase two at $1.2 million.
“We really feel like at this point in time, it is time to get this project built. We really need your help to get this project done,” Dechant said.
The college has not yet hammered out all the details of the project and no start date is set for construction.
Funding for the second phase was not included in this year’s capital budget request, but it could come out of revenues from a quarter cent sales tax in the future.
Next on the list is a $250,000 renovation of the upper level of building 300, which houses the Natural Resources department. The cost includes upgrades to the HVAC system and revamping of classrooms.
The 300 building is followed closely by the renovation of the R.V. Frazell Administration Building.
“It’s been a long time, if ever that building has been renovated,” Dechant said. “It’s time.”
The estimated project cost is $500,000 and includes an overhaul of offices, meeting rooms and the bathrooms.
Dechant pointed out that the current restrooms in the administration building are one-person bathrooms and too small to allow for much movement, making them not ADA compliant.
The last items on HCC’s priority list for next year are equipment: $56,000 for a dump truck; $50,000 for two 15-passenger trucks; $35,000 for an excavator; $38,000 for a tractor and $9,000 for a golf cart.
The trucks are “heavily” used for trips to Raleigh and the maintenance department uses golf carts to move needed tools around campus, Dechant said.
Although the college asked for slight more than $1.4 million to pay for the equipment and the renovations of the administration building and building 300, its actual construction to-do list amounts to $3.6 million, including $1.5 million to renovate HCC cosmetology building.