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By JEFF MOORE
Funding for a new Jefferson Community and Technical College campus in Carrollton is heading to Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk for his signature as part of a budget agreement that passed in both houses of the legislature Monday night.
The $12 million for the JCTC campus was among the final items included in the state’s 2014-16 spending plan by the budget conferees, Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, said in an interview Tuesday. Budget negotiations began at 11 a.m. Saturday and didn’t wrap up until 6 a.m. Sunday. He said he believes the funds for the community college projects was held until last because all of those on the committee agreed the funding should be included in the state’s $20.3 billion biennial budget.
Rand, who chairs the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said he talked with Beshear Monday night and doesn’t expect anything to arise that would jeopardize the JCTC funding.
“I don’t think he will veto a single one on the community college list,” Rand said.
Funding for the new JCTC campus and projects at other community and technical colleges across the state were included in Beshear’s original budget.
Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said he also believes the governor will sign the budget bill.
“It’s been a long-time coming,” Tomlinson said Tuesday. “It was a lot of work on a lot of peoples’ behalf.”
The $16.3 million project will include the initial site-work at the new location on 30 acres that used to be part of Camp Kysoc, and is located directly across from General Butler State Resort Park. It also includes a new 12,000 square-foot building to house classrooms, labs, offices and the other space needed for students, such as the library and a commons area.
Rand said this is needed because the JCTC campus in Carrollton is “busting at the seams,” just like other community and technical college campuses across the state. More than 100,000 students attend these colleges in Kentucky, he said, because they can tailor their offerings to the needs of local industry.
Industry demands that the campus have the proper facilities to provide the training they need for workers, Rand said.
“It has grown beyond belief,” Tomlinson said. Many students either can’t afford a four-year college or do not want to take on the kind of debt that often comes with attending those schools. This makes the community and technical colleges the choice for these students who want to secure the good jobs industry in the county and region has to offer.
Tomlinson praised everyone’s effort in working to have the project included in the state budget, especially Rand and state Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville.
But, he said, there is more work ahead before the state’s $12 million can be released for the project.
The local community must raise $4 million, the local 25 percent share of the project’s cost, he said.
Rand said he is confident the money can be raised quickly based on the conversations he has had with leaders from the county and the region.
With the regional support the campus has received, Tomlinson agreed that he believes the money can be raised and that Carroll County is in good financial shape to be able to assist.
Tomlinson said work also is underway to secure foundation funding to help with the project costs.
Carroll County Community Development Corporation member Ruth Baxter said the group is partnering with the Carrollton College Educational Foundation, which established the Carrollton campus, to raise the $4 million.
“Once we have a response to our grant application, we will jointly organize a fundraising team to complete our contribution so that we will have a shovel-ready project by the fall,” Baxter said. “Regional businesses and industry members have been a part of the steering committee that has been meeting for several months to oversee the planning and design of the new campus. All have expressed interest in contributing toward this project to make it a reality.”
Rand said there is a lot of work that remains, so he expects the groundbreaking on the project likely won’t happen until next spring. But he said there is a possibility if everything falls into place quickly, that could happen this fall.
“The sooner the better,” he said.
Tomlinson agreed, saying he would like to get everything in place in a timely fashion. “It would be nice to say, ‘We’ve raised our money and we can move forward,’” he said.
Local industry has a lot of baby boomers set to retire in the next 10 years, Tomlinson said.
“There are a number of retirements upcoming that will open up quality jobs if we can provide the workforce to fill those jobs,” he said.
Under the bill that passed this week, students at JCTC will help to pay back the $12 million that is being borrowed to fund the campus project.
Rand said students will pay a fee of $4 per credit hour the first year, and then $8 per credit hour in years after that until the loan is repaid. The wording in the bill has caused some confusion, but Rand said as it stands that fee will only be assessed at the campuses where the projects were awarded. However, he said that could change in the next few weeks as the wording is reconciled and adjusted.
“I’m extremely pleased that this project made it through the budget process, because it was my top priority locally,” Rand said in a news release. “It will mean so much for our students and area industry once it is up and running. I’ve been proud to work with so many people to get this done and look forward to the day we can break ground.”
Dennis Goff, the long-time chairman of the Carrollton Education Foundation that oversees the local campus, added: “It’s been a long 23 years since we started this, and I think everyone is going to be grateful for Rep. Rand for the effort he put into making this possible. The new location, on about 30 acres across from General Butler State Resort Park, is perfect for our needs. We have really outgrown our current site in the renovated department store building we now use.”
Hornback could not be reached for comment at presstime.