An excavator moves topsoil Tuesday at the site of the new Colorado Northwestern Community College's Craig campus. An academic building is scheduled to open on the site in fall 2011. If federal mineral lease dollars allotted for the design phase of the building don't come through when anticipated, the CNCC college board may be called upon to put $193,653 into the project.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

An excavator moves topsoil Tuesday at the site of the new Colorado Northwestern Community College's Craig campus. An academic building is scheduled to open on the site in fall 2011. If federal mineral lease dollars allotted for the design phase of the building don't come through when anticipated, the CNCC college board may be called upon to put $193,653 into the project.

CNCC crafts Plan B

Funds for building design could come later than expected

At a glance

• $21.3 million in federal mineral lease revenues for Colorado Northwestern Community College could be late in coming.

• Funds earmarked for design of new academic building for CNCC Craig campus.

• $193,653 from CNCC Craig board's building fund could supplement project.

• CNCC board members to know by November board meeting whether their contribution will be needed.

— The credit crunch may hit home for a local community college.

About $21.3 million of federal mineral lease dollars allotted to the Colorado Northwestern Community College may not be available as soon as first estimated because of the recent credit crisis. That could leave CNCC looking for another way to fund one of the first phases of its new academic building at its Craig campus.

However, John Boyd, CNCC president, is confident that the project is in good standing financially.

"We're in pretty good shape as a college with that building," he said.

However, Boyd added that the college may have to scale down the project if costs rise unexpectedly.

The academic building, which Boyd has called the "hallmark" of the new Craig campus, is scheduled to open in fall 2011.

In May, CNCC announced that it would receive $21.3 for its academic building after Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill designating a portion of federal mineral lease dollars to fund higher education construction projects.

Initially, CNCC's certificate of participation in the program was scheduled for release to the college Nov. 1.

Because of the current financial situation, however, that certificate and the funds backing it may not be available until January.

Ritter may temporarily withhold the funds in light of "weak" revenue projections, Boyd said.

If that scenario plays out, the CNCC board may have to ante up to fund part of the design phase of its new academic building.

CNCC already has about $163,000 earmarked for designing the academic building. Still, those funds will cover about half of the costs involved with creating the building's design.

Boyd's initial plan was to use federal mineral lease dollars to fund the other half of the project. If those funds aren't freed up by early November, though, the CNCC board will be asked to commit an additional $193,653 to complete the academic building's design.

Boyd gave the board advance notice of this possibility to prepare for possible scenarios created by the current economic situation.

Financial projections may prove more favorable than anticipated, Boyd said.

Still, he wants to have a backup plan.

"So all this stuff is precautionary, so if we have to do something, we can keep things moving," Boyd said. "That's my main concern, that the design on the building keeps moving forward."

The board, which oversees revenue the college receives from county taxes, likely will draw from its building fund to supply the additional funds, should the college need them, Boyd said.

Boyd wrote that he expects to know by the board's November meeting the status of the college's federal mineral lease funds and, if necessary, seek board funding.

If the college does end up footing part of the bill, federal mineral lease dollars later would be used to fund other parts of the academic building.

Boyd also is considering scaling down the project if expenses increase unexpectedly.

"I can and will size down the academic building to fit within our budget," he wrote.

In that case, the size of the 78,000 square-foot building would remain the same, but some areas would remain unfinished, Gene Bilodeau, CNCC Craig campus dean, said.

Boyd said finishing parts of the building later is an option, but he added that no plans to scale down the projects are set in stone.

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