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County commissioners move forward on $45 million bond referendum

SALISBURY – The Rowan County commissioners on Monday adopted a resolution saying they intend to move forward with a $45 million bond for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

The bond package would pay for a 105,000-square-foot facility and renovated space at the college’s north campus. It would be known as the technology education complex and contain multiple programs. The completion date is 2024.

The college hopes to provide facilities for training for high-tech jobs in fields including robotic and virtual welding, advanced machining and automotive technology. The college says it aims to offer “cutting edge” programs through the investment that meets the needs of new industries and strengthens the working relationship with local educational entities.

The bond would require Rowan County to repay the debt for a specified term. A referendum would give voters the power to decide if they approve the plan.

“If the citizens vote for it, then you move forward with issuing the bonds. If they don’t vote for it, then you don’t move forward,”  said Assistant County Manager Leslie Heidrick.

A long road awaits its placement on the ballot, but Heidrick told the Post she projects a 3-cent tax increase would be required to pay back the bonds.

According to Heidrick, the repayment term would be for 15 years, and the bond would be paid back with tax dollars.

“We would increase the tax rate and, therefore, we would receive additional tax revenues, and those monies would pay for the debt service each year,” she said.

The commissioners project that the referendum would be on the March 2020 ballot.

Specifically on Monday, commissioners approved two resolutions saying the county intends to file an application with the Local Government Commission to move forward with the bond and that that the project is necessary.

Vice Chairman Jim Greene clarified that the commissioners are not coming out in support of the bond just yet, only giving Rowan-Cabarrus Community College the ability to bring the bond question forward and place it on the ballot.

“We’re technically not in support of the bond on the ballot,” Greene said. “Each commissioner will decide whether they will support the bond or not.”

College President Carol Spalding provided a brief outline of the project in an email to the Post.

“Our community deserves up-to-date facilities to prepare students for high-wage, high-tech jobs in fields such as robotic and virtual welding, advanced machining and automotive technology,” Spalding said. “The job market is bursting with opportunity in today’s advanced technological trades, and we want to help students achieve success in these fields and achieve sustainable futures full of promise and continued opportunity.”

According to the email, the current space where welding, machining and automotive programs are housed could potentially be repurposed for additional career and technical education, which could include technical trades such as plumbing, heating and air conditioning, emergency medical services and other careers that need increased capacity.

The specific programs and needs would be determined through future capital projects and program planning.

According to Sarah Walker, executive director of governance, foundation operations and public information, the technology education complex would include facilities for the fire decontamination program, career and college promise building, automotive, digital design and more.

The college’s board of trustees passed a resolution in September in support of construction of the technology education complex on the North Campus.

In other business:

• The commissioners approved a construction agreement between Shelter Guardians as donor and C.S. Bradshaw Construction Co. for a new dog adoption wing at the county animal shelter. Plans call for 46 dog shelters, a lobby with offices, an operating room, surgery prep room, and food preparation area. The facility will be about 9,000 square feet, and the cost of the project is estimated a t$1.8 million. The agreement was approved with the condition that an acceptable site plan be provided that specifies the proposed location of the new building.

• Ronnie Smith spoke during the public-comment period, inviting the public to attend the dedication of the Rowan County Vietnam Veterans Memorial at about 3:30 p.m. Veterans Day at Salisbury City Park, immediately following the Veterans Day parade.

Items on the consent agenda included:

• The board approved a request for a public hearing on incentives for “Project Bay.” The company would be a new employer in Rowan County that would create 161 jobs over the next four years.

• The commissioners approved a plan to add Performance Road in Atwell Township to the state secondary road system.

• The board approved the purchase of two new 2019 Medix ambulances at a cost not to exceed $401,762.

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