College, board trying to get on same page for facility

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 SHEPHERDSVILLE - You can’t have a winning team if everyone is not on the same game plan.

For members of the Bullitt County Education Foundation and officials with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, the time to regroup and discuss the local situation will come on Friday.

A recent meeting of the local education foundation, which is taking steps to generate a way to build a community college campus, turned a bit acrimonious.

The discussion started with a desire for the foundation to get paperwork completed for financing on the college facility, planned for the Highway 245 interchange on Interstate 65.

Member and banker Keith Griffee said interest rates were very attractive but those could change at any time.

But before officials with Jefferson Community and Technical College or KCTCS would move forward with any paperwork, Bullitt County campus director Donna Miller said there were some issues that needed to be ironed out.

Some of the concern has been floating numbers and details about the project.

The original plan was for the foundation to get financing and construct the facility. That would be built and based upon the long-term leasing by JCTC in order to make the debt service payments.

Miller, however, said her side was looking for “concrete” numbers.

She said the original price tag of the facility was $20-$24 million. But, more recently, the figure of $28 million was discussed.

The higher the amount to finance, the greater commitment required by JCTC.

“That caused some concerns,” said Miller.

The debt service would be for 40 years.

In banking terms, Griffee said finance officials look at a large range when estimating costs. 

Miller said another concern is over the size of the property.

If the college was only going to have 6-7 acres dedicated to its use out the entire tract, Miller said that could be an issue.

“We build buildings for 1-50 years,” said Miller.

She said a new facility in Carrollton was 50,000 square feet and 40 acres were required.

Miller said before the KCTCS officials can move forward, there needed to be a clear and frank discussion between the parties.

“To be prudent fiduciaries of state money…we just can’t go forward with an arbitrary number,” said Miller.

Griffee inquired if there was a chance that KCTCS officials did not want to go forward with the project.

“There is no chance we don’t want to do it,” said Miller. “But there is some discomfort about the size of the property.”

Griffee said he remembered that the $28 million figure was presented by the college college officials. As a banker, you normally consider the high side of estimates when looking at deals.

Miller said the going back and forth does not make her side feel comfortable.

During the June 27 gathering in Versailles, Miller said she would be showing the local group the needs of the community college.

“We want to have a very clear understanding that we want to move forward,” said Miller. “But we must move forward in a prudent manner.”

She understood the urgency of the education group to lock into a better interest rate. But, in reality, no matter the rate, it will be college which is bearing all the costs.

Prior to Friday’s meeting, Miller said she could get information to the board members about the major concerns -- size of the property and size of the building and its cost.

Board member Scott Wantland said he was not feeling good about the acrimonious tone of the discussion.

Griffee said he didn’t get that sense.

“There’s a sense of frustration because we want to move forward,” said Miller.

With getting everyone at the same table, Miller felt confident that everything could be cleared up and worked out.

Currently, JCTC is operating its Bullitt County campus out of the old judicial center property off Buffalo Run Road. It is at capacity in terms of the number of students it can serve.

Besides adult students, the college has also partnered with the Bullitt County Public School System to offer a variety of duel-credit programs, including the Bullitt Academy of Math and Science, where juniors and seniors actually attend JCTC for all of their classes.

Bullitt County officials have agreed to lease the property to the education foundation for no charge. The property is to only be used for a college institution or it is returned to the county’s control.