Lt. Gov. Dan Forest Looks at Large Bond Issue for State Construction Needs in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C., March 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Faced with a potential $6 billion price tag to repair and renovate existing state buildings and community colleges, North Carolina may need to consider a bond referendum to fix those buildings and help jump-start the state's economy, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said recently at a meeting of Carolinas AGC and AIA North Carolina.

"A study is underway to look at all existing state facilities and their repair and renovation needs," Forest said. "We are looking at ways to drive efficiencies through facilities but there are numerous updates needed. It will be difficult to fund all necessary repairs through savings in the short term, so a bond referendum may be needed if it can be done without raising taxes."

Forest's comments were made at a March 15 meeting in Pinehurst of the AIA NC/CAGC Joint Committee (American Institute of Architects/Carolinas Associated General Contractors). About 35 architect and contractor representatives attended the meeting.

During a wide-ranging, hour-long presentation, Forest was asked about AGC's market figures that each $1 billion spent on construction will create or sustain 28,500 jobs. "That is a lot of jobs, especially if you are talking about $6 billion in needs," Forest said.

Forest noted that a $3.1 billion bond referendum in North Carolina passed overwhelmingly in 2000. Of those bonds, $2.5 billion went toward construction needs of the 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina System. The remaining $600 million went to community colleges for their construction needs.

Forest said the state's community colleges and other state facilities should get a much larger slice of funding if voters are asked to vote on another bond referendum. "Our community colleges are on the front lines in training much-needed employees for our workforce," Forest said.

"And we have the best community college system in the nation," he added. "If we desire to stay in the lead, we will need to invest in our infrastructure -- and that burden will not just fall on the state but our local communities as well."

During questions, one attendee noted to Forest that the 2014 annual debt capacity report by State Treasurer Janet Cowell said North Carolina could spend $570 million per year over the next decade on such state construction renovations and repairs. State and university officials last year told leading state lawmakers that North Carolina should set aside $512 million to $1 billion annually for state repairs and renovations. Those needs, presented to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations in October 2013, were documented with photos, also on the link above.

At the AIA/CAGC meeting, Forest said he would support legislation in the short session of the N.C. General Assembly, which begins May 14, to do a state study of repair and renovation needs, funding sources and recommendations for the long session of the legislature next year.

"The study should be based on greatest needs and not just the wants and desires of interest groups. We are still in the process of a long climb out of a deep recession and we must be the best stewards of the people's money. Taking care of the facilities they own is a good way to do that," said Forest, an architect.

For more information, contact Dave Simpson (dsimpson@carolinasagc.org), NC government relations/building director for Carolinas AGC.

Carolinas AGC (CAGC) represents contractors and construction-related firms in North Carolina and South Carolina, and serves as a chapter of AGC of America and ARTBA. Through diverse partnerships, Carolinas AGC effectively innovates and shares knowledge across sectors and generations; advancing the construction industry to enhance the quality of life and deliver a sustainable difference in the Carolinas. Visit us at www.cagc.org.

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SOURCE Carolinas Associated General Contractors



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