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No bond, no building: Supporters say RCCC programs would stagnate without bond issue

SALISBURY — The bond issue on March’s ballot to support Rowan-Cabarrus Community College would go a long way toward updating some of school’s most important programs, supporters say.

If it doesn’t pass, said college President Carol Spalding, “we are where we are” — no new building and no additional space for programs that already have more students than they can take.

And without funding for new facilities to house automotive, welding and computer-integrated machining (CNC) programs, the college said it could lose out on more than injecting more skilled labor and money into the local economy.

“I think the biggest effect is going to be we’ll continue to lose out on industries coming here,” Board of Trustees Chair Chip Short said. “We’ll open our doors next year and offer the same programs in the same space, and continue to operate like we have the past 50 years, it just won’t be any better.”

The $45 million referendum would pay for a new facility for Rowan County Early College, new automotive, welding and machining space as well as a fire decontamination facility. If county residents pass the referendum, it’s projected to result in a 3-cent property tax increase. The debt would be paid over 15 years. The county’s current property tax rate is 65.75 cents per $100 of valuation.

Commissioners unanimously voted to add the referendum to the ballot in December and expressed support for bringing the project to fruition.

The exact timeline for the project isn’t set. While the college hopes the bond issue passes so it can begin work, it will require a number of state, design-related approvals.

If the bond issue does not pass, Spalding said, Rowan County would have a reputation of not supporting education.

“That is not a reputation that you want,” Spalding said. “Do you want to bring in new business and industry? You want to have a business-friendly, education-friendly reputation. So I think it’s really important that people look at this bond and say, ‘OK, I don’t have any kids in school, I don’t care, but what is this going to do for the community?’”

Spalding said the tax increase would result in a cost of $3.50 cents a month for the average household in the county. For those without kids, she said said there’s no better place to spend it than investing in neighbors.

“We’ve got people who want to go to school that can’t get in because of capacity, and we can make that different.” Spalding said. “They can get better paying jobs then buy a house, they can pay taxes, they can do all of that.”

The Student Government Association at Rowan-Cabarrus is committing 200 service hours and $45,000 collected from student fees to the bond issue. Spalding said the students are paying it forward because they will probably not get a benefit from the new facilities before they graduate.

“We’re really proud of the student government and what it’s been doing over the past few years,” Spalding said. “This I think is maybe their finest hour when you think about their ability to put labor and love and money all behind the future needs of a student body that they won’t even know.”

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