Commissioners approve final $40M in bonds for CFCC

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Cape Fear Community College will get to spend the final $40 million of bond money voters approved several years ago after a long debate by the New Hanover County Commission today.

Commissioners voted 4-1 this morning to approve issuing the bonds that the college plans to use for a new Advanced & Emerging Technologies Center on its North Campus.

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The vote came after Republicans Skip Watkins and Woody White expressed concern about the amount of debt the county has, including for various bonds, and the impact that may have on property taxes. Meanwhile Democrats Rob Zapple and Jonathan Barfield each said they supported the plan, which they believe will have a positive impact on economic development and job growth for the county.

Republican Beth Dawson wrapped up the debate arguing that the county is in good fiscal health, as had been announced in an audit report just a few minutes earlier. Staff also told her that the county is paying down an average of $30 million of principal on its debt each year.

Voters approved $164 million in bonds for CFCC in 2008. Since then, the school has used $124 million on projects including the Union Station classroom building, the Humanities & Fine Arts Building under construction and a new parking deck. The money earmarked for the Advanced & Emerging Technologies Center represents the final chunk of the approved bond money.

A CFCC spokesman says the college expects to start construction on the new center in the next six months. The project is expected take 12-18 months to complete.

Commissioners today also signed off on New Hanover County Schools’ budget for the $160 million bond voters approved last fall for capital projects.