New Hanover County Commissioners are likely to decide next week whether to green-light the issuance of a $40 million bond to pay for construction and repair projects at Cape Fear Community College.
The original bond referendum for $164 million, of which this remaining $40 million is a part, passed with a strong majority in 2008.
Skip Watkins and Rob Zapple took their oaths of office just last month. The two new Commissioners, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, have become fast friends -- albeit with different approaches to County governance.
Zapple says the return on investment to the County for building an Advanced and Emerging Technologies Center will show up on both the education and economic development fronts. And, says Zapple, the money will pay for sorely-needed repairs to existing buildings on the downtown campus.
"$40 million today that has, once again, been approved back in 2008 when they approved the entire bond measure – the voters did here – is worth conservatively probably $47 - $48 million in money that’s five or seven years out. It represents a tremendous value to the voters because of rising construction costs, rising material costs… we will never see the value of that $40 million we’re looking at – at the levels that it is today."
Skip Watkins won’t say yet which way he’ll vote, but he echoes fellow Commissioner Woody White’s concerns over any increase in the County debt load.
"My decision process is coming down to: we need training facilities. We have Vertex here now. We have the potential for other industries to come here. The veterinary school I personally researched the need for that and I do agree with that but I was not familiar with it at first so I did my own research. I have an automotive, mechanical background, so I have some passion. But I have to weigh the need against the cost. And so right now, you know, that’s just my thought process."
County Commissioners will vote on the bond issuance at their next Tuesday morning meeting.
This was part of the most recent discussion on CoastLine – which airs every Wednesday at noon.
To listen to the conversation in its entirety, click here, or tune in for the re-broadcast on Saturday at 1 PM.