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Process of Funding College Construction Commences

Sat March 24, 2007 - West Edition
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GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) The legislature and Gov. Dave Freudenthal have dedicated state funds to cover half the cost of construction projects at three community colleges.

The hard part now falls to the schools and local officials: Covering the rest of the costs through taxes and donations.

Under a bill Freudenthal signed March 1, the state would provide $18.4 million for a technical education center at Gillette College and $7.4 million for a health sciences building at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, provided those colleges raise the same amounts through taxes and donations.

In addition, the state would provide $3 million in matching funds for a diesel mechanics facility at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, provided that the college raises $6 million for a dormitory building.

Gillette College Dean Paul Young said he planned to meet soon with Gillette and Campbell County officials to seek ideas for raising the local funds.

“What I’m hoping for is that the local governments will find a creative way to help us do this other half,” he said. “The challenge there is there are plenty of other things that they’re going to be building, and I think we kind of have to get in line on that one.”

Possibilities include putting a quarter-percent sales tax before Campbell County voters. Young said that’s an attractive option because the college wouldn’t be left with debt to repay.

“The college doesn’t have that kind of revenue to pay back a bond,” Young said.

Raising $18.4 million through a quarter-percent tax would take approximately two and a half years.

Another option would be forming a joint powers board with representatives from the area’s local governments. The college and local governments would divvy up financial responsibilities including land acquisition, building costs, and operation and maintenance costs.

Young said he wouldn’t object to private donations, either.

A combination of those fundraising methods seems possible as well.

“Just when we think we’ve finished all the work, we really haven’t gotten any money if we don’t raise the other piece,” Young said.

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