Carrollton JCTC facility included in House budget

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By Dave Taylor

The third time could be the charm for the long-anticipated $12 million Carrollton campus of Jefferson Community and Technical College.

The Kentucky House of Representatives last week voted to include the appropriation for the JCTC project in its version of the 2010-2012 state budget, said Rep. Rick Rand (D-47th, Bedford).

Carroll County and JCTC officials have been working toward building the proposed 40,000-square-foot facility on a state-owned site across from General Butler State Resort Park.

The new campus would enable JCTC to expand on the community and technical college programs now offered at the 12,450-square-foot facility at 324 Main St., Carrollton, which is leased.

Additionally, the new facility also would provide testing and assessment services, and provide technical training and business and industry training facilities to expand regional post-secondary education opportunities.

A formal agreement between the state and JCTC regarding the 25- to 30-acre site chosen for the campus is still in the works, said Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson. “We still have some details to work out on that.”

But while funding for the project has been remove from the state budget on two other occasions, things are looking good this time around, said, who is chairman of the House Budget Preparation and Submission Committee.

“In the House budget, the project is paid for. We’ve committed money and [incorporated] the debt service to make payments,” Rand said last week. “The budget contains language that will allow for the property to transfer to KCTS.”

The property is part of 123 acres owned by the park that has been leased to Cardinal Hills, which operates Camp Kysoc across the lake from where the new campus would be located.

Rand said Cardinal Hills is expected to convert to a year-to-year lease to retain the land it uses for Kysoc.

“I’m proud that the House is strongly supporting this project and hundreds of others across the state as we look for ways to put Kentuckians back to work,” Rand said in a news release. Rand represents Carroll County and serves as chairman of the chamber’s powerful Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

Rand said he is optimistic that the campus funding will remain in the Senate verson of the bill, which is expected next week.

State Sen. Ernie Harris (R-26th District, Crestwood) said it’s too early in the process to know whether the funding will make it through in the Senate’s version.

Harris said he has supported the new campus project from the beginning, helping to get it passed the year it was vetoed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Harris said the Senate will review the House budget to make sure there’s “not funny money” supporting the plan.

He said he is concerned that the House has loaded down spending with too much debt. Debt service accounts for 7.3 to 7.4 percent of spending, well beyond the 6 percent average of past budgets.

This amount of debt could affect the state’s bond rating and increase interest rates on money borrowed for projects.

Susan Carlisle, JCTC Carrollton Campus administrator, remains “cautiously optimistic. ... I would like to think that the support is there,” she said. “It would be wonderful to be able to move ahead with plans for a new facility, because it would really be good for the communities we serve.”