EMCC continues push for money to expand

June 25, 2013 10:05:00 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


East Mississippi Community College representatives say construction projects are needed to help with an expected influx of students and workforce trainees associated with Golden Triangle industrial developments. 


EMCC and representatives from area counties are expected to meet Friday in Macon to continue discussing expansion projects and funding options. 


EMCC officials are currently in the planning and fund-procuring stages for two new facilities - a student housing complex for its Scooba campus and a Golden Triangle campus student union with classroom space - which are estimated to cost a combined $34 million. 


The school is expected to expand its Allied Health program with the additional classroom space, EMCC President Rick Young said. Officials also hinted at the possibility of constructing a dormitory for its Golden Triangle campus by 2018 due to the predicted student influx. 


Young approached the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors with two funding options which spread 15-year and 20-year payments across the six counties which represent a majority of the community college's 2011-2012 enrollment. 


In that year, Lowndes (47 percent) Oktibbeha (24 percent) and Clay (13 percent) had the highest enrollment, while Noxubee, Kemper and Lauderdale counties' students represented a combined 16 percent of the student body, documents presented to the board state. 


At three-percent interest, the 15-year plan would raise the total repayment plan to about $39.3 million. Lowndes County would contribute $892,120 per year under this option, while Oktibbeha ($455,551) and Clay counties ($246,757) would together chip in about $700,000. 


The 20-year, three-percent interest plan increases the total repayment to about $42.1 million, but would drive down each county's annual contribution. In this debt service plan, Lowndes County would contribute $649,007 annually, while Oktibbeha's ($331,408) and Clay's ($179,513) yearly combined contribution decreases to just more than $500,000. 


EMCC would be the project's chief backer, spending either $13.71 million or $17.34 million depending on which payment plan is approved. In addition to the almost $3 million in state bond funds EMCC has available, the community college would also contribute $725,000 annually in both plans. 


Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay, Noxubee, Kemper and Lauderdale counties contributed a combined $2.89 million through local maintenance and capital improvement millages to EMCC's $54.33 million 2011-2012 total budget. Measured by each county's number of students, awarded institutional scholarships, number of employees, salaries, fringe benefits and payments to vendors, EMCC documents calculate the school's total investment in those same six counties at $44.73 million.

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch