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Cape Fear Community College Requests Additional $737k For Improvements

Cape Fear Community College recently requested the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners budget additional funds to permit repairs to aging buildings and make other improvements.

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NEW HANOVER CTY - Cape Fear Community College requested the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners budget additional funds to permit repairs to aging buildings and make other improvements.
Dr. Eric McKeithan - President of Cape Fear Community College - spoke during the Board's June 4, meeting regarding the proposed budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 which begins July 1.
McKeithan thanked the Board for their financial support through issuing bonds for various projects. He explained, "We requested $2.5 million dollars extra this year in our local budget. Years ago the County, the City of Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College entered into a partnership to build a safety training center."
He explained, "I trust you that you've been out there and seen the fruits of that work where hundreds and hundreds of fire fighters, law enforcement and rescue officials have been trained in that facility."
McKeithan said, "We absorbed the operating cost of that facility within our budget and we've not had the occasion to come back and ask you for a separate operating budget for that facility. We also have Wilmington early college high school... and the college put up the money to build that building entirely out of funds that we have and then we absorbed the operating cost of that within our budget. That brings me to the point where we are running out of these kind of spare funds and actually we've been spending down our reserve to where I think we have a critical problem coming up."
McKeithan said they thank the Board for budgeting a million dollars for the College but, "Also to explain to you the million dollars will pay for the insurance and the basic operating costs we will have with bringing Union Station on line and the parking deck that is already in place that we have to pay for now."
He said, "Four things I think are critical... our analysis of that one million dollars, you will see things that we absolutely have to do that is going to cost a total of $913,000, that's the operating expenses. That leaves $86,000 for capital improvements."
McKeithan outlined four capital improvement projects that have to be done. He said the college, "Does not have the benefit of having a spare building setting around. If we lose a building for any reason, if we lose the function of a building, if a hurricane takes the roof completely off of it, we have no where to take all of the students and programs that are housed in any one building to another building. We have no additional capacity."
He explained, "We have a serious water intrusion problem in the Allied Health building that also has a learning resources center. We've partnered with the County and I think the County has some similar issues, but in the mean time we have such a water intrusion problem there that's it's absolutely critical that that building gets fixed."
McKeithan explained, "We already had in this year's budget the sum of $220,000 earmarked to go toward that project, unfortunately we now have estimates that says it's going to take about $452,000" to correct some issues as well as masonry issues involved in correcting some construction problems.
He explained, "That's about $600,000 and you subtract the $220,000 already in the budget and that's a very serious problem. We've got a $382,000 problem. As I stand before you tonight we have about $500,000 in our entire budget reserve. So you can see that $380,000 is going to wipe out that reserve."
McKeithan said, "The roof on the workforce training center desperately needs replacing. We've got so many leaks down there it's beyond patching now. That was an $85,000 item."
He said, "We've got two chillers. One of those chillers is in the Allied Health and Learning Resources Building and the other one in the science building, they've been repaired so many times they can't be repaired anymore. If either of those chillers goes down then we have no air conditioning in those buildings and immediately we are going to lose the use of those buildings."
He explained, "While I thank you or the million dollars that has been recommended in our budget this year, I believe that even if we are so fortunate this year as to
dodge another hurricane, you have four items here that I would bring to your attention that if there is any way possible that you can scratch out $737,000. These repairs need to be made this year. They will not wait."
McKeithan said, "If either one of these things happens, and come down and take a look, we will be willing to show you first hand. Anything can happen today, tomorrow or next month, and certainly over the course of the next
year and we will lose an entire building because of either one of these issues. These are things that do desperately need your attention."
He said, "Other than that, I will tell you this past year we served over 28,000 different people, the huge majority of those here in New Hanover County and regardless of what you do for us, I'm going to tell you the same thing I've said for the other seventeen years I've been here before a
body sitting in those seats and we are going to serve as many people as we absolutely can squeeze into that facility to the best of our ability."
McKeithan will soon retire from his post at the college.
Commission Chairman Ted Davis said, "Please remember, in addition to the million dollars that we are going to give in additional funding we are also going to pay for the bonds that are going to be issued." He explained, "Not only are you getting the one million additional in your budget we also are paying $1.8 million for the bonds... so we are trying to help the college all we can."
McKeithan said, "You just can't use the bond money to fix those problems over here so if that opportunity becomes available it would go to a good purpose because those things are imminent right now."
The Board of Commissioners will consider adopting a balanced budget at their upcoming June 18, meeting at 9AM.