County Commissioners may postpone decision on CFCC expansion

County Commissioners may postpone decision on CFCC expansion

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - $40 million. That's how much is riding on a decision by New Hanover County Commissioners, who are balancing the needs of Cape Fear Community College to expand, and the burden that expansion would place on tax payers.

CFCC wants to move forward with its latest expansion project at the college's North Campus. College President Ted Spring went before the commissioners Monday afternoon to push for a new Advanced and Emerging Technologies facility at the college's North Campus, as well as renovations to several existing facilities downtown. These facilities would house job training programs like veterinary tech and automotive technology.

According to Spring, the college has already spent two million dollars on architecture for the proposed building.

In 2008, voters approved a $164 million bond referendum to pay for the expansion, but county commissioners get the final vote on whether to issue bonds to pay for this last phase of construction.

Because of the recession, the college was already able to add all the gross square footage they'd initially asked for at a considerable savings, and they would like to use the rest of the bond money to add even more space.

Commissioner Woody White says CFCC's enrollment growth has cooled off. He presented some enrollment numbers to his fellow commissioners, challenging numbers presented by the college. White said he thought for the time being, the college has as much space it needs.

During the Commissioner meeting Monday, White showed a document from the state's community college system that said numbers of students attending community college is decreasing.

But Spring said the numbers White is working with are inaccurate and the number of students attending CFCC is increasing.

He cited several businesses already on board with job training partnerships with CFCC.

"They get it, they understand that this is about jobs," said Spring. "Every single building, every single program we are going to be bringing forward with this bond issue is all about creating jobs and preparing people to go to work so that they can feed they're families in this community, these are good paying jobs."

The county may have more time to debate this expansion than initially believed. Although the bonds technically have to be issued by November, the commissioners could ask for a 3-year extension that would likely be approved and give them more time to decide if this expansion is really necessary.

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