Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Commissioners give ACC most, but not all, of the extra millions it wanted for construction projects whose costs have increased

County commissioners voted Monday night to give Alamance Community College about 55 percent of the additional money college officials had asked for to cover cost increases in various capital projects that were to have been funded by a $39.6 million bond referendum that voters approved in 2018.

Officials with Alamance Community College scored a partial victory this week when they received $3 million of the $5.5 million that they had requested from the county’s elected leaders to cover cost increases in various bond-subsidized capital projects that they have in the offing.

ACC president Dr. Algie Gatewood

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday night, the county’s board of commissioners gave the college permission to use $2 million from its own capital reserves to cover the increased cost of a proposed public safety training center near Green Level, which was one of the projects that was to be financed by the $39.6 million bond package that area voters approved in 2018.

The commissioners also earmarked another $500,000 in federal pandemic funds to cover the training center’s water and sewer services, thereby providing enough money to cover the training center’s projected cost, which has increased from $10.4 million to $12.9 million since the bonds were approved.

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The commissioners also gave ACC clearance to use another $500,000 from capital reserves toward the renovation of the Main/Powell/Gee building.

The commissioners nevertheless declined to issue another $3 million in bond “premium,” which ACC had requested to cover the rest of the Main/Powell/Gee project as well as $1 million to establish two satellite campuses. This so-called premium is additional bond debt that the county was offered in 2021, and which it could’ve issued without exceeding its projected debt payments due to historically low interest rates. The commissioners had declined to “take” this premium in 2021, although the county’s administrators insist the offer remains on the table.

“That additional [bond debt] is not what the public voted on [alluding to the electorate’s approval of $39.6 million in bonds for ACC in 2018]. “I know what [the ceiling was that] this county voted for, and I’m not going to cross it.” – County commissioner Pam Thompson

On the subject of bond premium, the prevailing mood of the county’s governing board was perhaps best summed up by commissioner Pam Thompson.  “That additional [bond debt] is not what the public voted on,” Thompson said, alluding to the local electorate’s approval of $39.6 million in bonds for ACC in 2018. “I know what this county voted for, and I’m not going to cross it.”

The decisions that the commissioners made on Monday leave ACC some $1.5 million short of its $5 million budget for the Main/Powell/Gee building. They have also left no funding at all for the two proposed satellite campuses.

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