Southeastern Community College has increased its focus on public safety training recently, and that emphasis is reflected in the college’s county budget request for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
During a Feb. 27 presentation to the Columbus County Board of Commissioners, SCC President Chris English explained that the college’s largest proposed capital project for the upcoming year involves constructing a storage unit to house a fire truck donated by Whiteville Fire Department and pouring a cement pad that will serve as the base for a new fire training tower. The price tag for the project is $170,000. The college will pay for the $155,000 tower itself using other funds.
“We need this fire tower,” English said. “It actually helps our fire rating in the county if we have this. So, it has a significant impact, not just to the college but to the county.”
In all, the college is requesting $490,000 in new capital projects, which includes $100,000 to install power stations at the four county high schools to provide electricity for SCC’s advanced manufacturing and mobile welding lab trailers. SCC's proposed budget also includes $138,695 for roofing and HVAC projects.
The college is seeking $1,886,360 in operating funds, an increase of slightly more than $100,000 from the current budget. English pointed to the increased cost of maintaining aging buildings and overall inflation for the higher request.
County commissioners made no budget decisions during the Feb. 27 meeting. Commissioners will consider the college’s request, along with asks from both public school systems when creating their budget.
While they made no funding commitments, several commissioners spoke favorably about the college.
“I have heard more compliments about Southeastern Community College than when we’ve had any other president we’ve had out there,” County Commission Chair Ricky Bullard said.
“The whole county is talking about you,” Commissioner Chris Smith told English.