HELP OR HURT?: BCCC slated to receive $6.5 million from bond
Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, February 16, 2016
North Carolina voters can expect to see a $2 billion bond referendum on the ballot during the March 15 primary election, and if approved, a large chunk of the money would be directed to Beaufort County.
State legislators approved the Connect NC Bonds Act referendum, which is intended to provide funding for statewide improvements involving education, parks, public safety and infrastructure, according to a memorandum from N.C. State University.
“About two-thirds of the bond would benefit higher education, 16 percent would pay for improvements in parks and in sewer and water infrastructure, 9 percent would go to agricultural projects, 5 percent would be allocated to the North Carolina Zoo and 4 percent would be spent on the National Guard and public safety,” the memorandum stated.
Under the criteria, the Connect NC Bond would funnel more than $6.5 million to Beaufort County Community College if passed.
Officials at BCCC have taken a stance in favor of passing the bond, saying it would pave the way for needed repairs and renovations, the majority of which would go toward a Public Safety Training Complex.
“The Public Safety Complex will include a (500-foot-by-600-foot) driving pad to conduct required training for law enforcement and emergency personnel, classrooms and storage buildings and a ‘burn building’ or state-of-the-art building for training firefighters,” a press release stated.
The land for the complex and the “burn building” were purchased by BCCC last year with funds from the BCCC Foundation and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, according to the release.
Officials developed a master plan for the complex back in 2005, but the college has since set it aside until the funds could be allocated.
At a commissioners’ meeting on Feb. 3, Dr. Barbara Tansey, president of BCCC, and Mark Nelson, vice president of administrative services, explained the importance of such a complex.
“This Public Safety Training Complex will be beneficial not only to Beaufort County Community College, but to the people in the four-county area we serve,” Tansey said in a press release. “Because we are able to meet new training standards for first responders, our residents can be assured that our first responders will have received the most up-to-date training when they arrive at the scene of an emergency.”
Trainees in the driving portion of their course currently have to go to Edenton to train.
According to Tansey, if voters approve the NC Connect Bond, BCCC would use the funds left over after the training complex for upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including $240,000 for signage for those who have limited sight and $112,000 for road crossing improvements.
“This money will allow BCCC to solve those problems,” Tansey said.
However, the bond referendum has raised questions with some North Carolina voters, many of who feel supporters have forgotten bond money is accompanied by accumulating interest that has to be paid.
Supporters of the group NC Against the Bond have labeled it a “debt deal” and continue to ask voters to take a step back, realize the reality and question whether it is a smart move to vote “yes.”
In March, voters will ultimately make the final decision by marking “for” or “against” the $2 billion bond.
If the bond wins a majority of support, it will be the first time in more than 15 years that voters have passed a “general obligation bond” related to infrastructure, a press release stated.