Sampson Community College was able to take advantage of a county capital reserve maintenance account to fix a boiler at the school — the request was the first from a fund established earlier this year to pay for necessary maintenance in emergency situations.
The Sampson County Board of Commissioners authorized the allocation of capital reserve funds for the replacement and installation of a new boiler unit at Sampson Community College, upon a request by SCC president Dr. Paul Hutchins.
The boiler provides the sole heat source for the Kitchin Building and was deemed “inoperable and not recommended for repair,” school officials said. SCC requested that funding be allocated from their capital reserve account in the amount of $12,834.77 to fund the purchase and installation of a new unit, which commissioner obliged.
In a letter to county manager Ed Causey, Bill Starling, vice president for administration at SCC, explained the request and also included a proposal from Johnson Controls for $12,834.77 for the purchase and installation of a Raypak H1-0624 two-stage natural gas boiler to replace a similar unit.
“The current unit was installed in 2004 as part of an energy performance contract. The unit is located outside the building in the weather and the overall condition of the unit has degraded,” Starling stated. “We have been advised that the heat exchange has rusted out and it would not be cost effective to repair the unit.”
Starling said that while the college could budget capital funds appropriated by the commissioners for 2012-13, it was specifically requested that funds be appropriated from the capital reserve funds. “All existing appropriations are needed to address items identified in the original budget request in preparation for the college’s accreditation site visit scheduled for the 2013 fall semester,” Starling stated.
Hutchins addressed the board during its recent meeting, detailing the need for funds outside of those already budgeted.
The college typically bids larger repair items when safety and health or the use of a facility are not compromised. In this instance, the unit provides the sole heat source for the Kitchin Building, one of the school’s main academic buildings that also houses the library, he stated.
The college’s statutory threshold for the required bidding of construction and repair work is $30,000. Johnson Controls is currently the HVAC maintenance contractor for the campus and will be the contractor to operate and maintain the unit.
Hutchins noted a more than 20-year relationship with Johnson Controls. The company had the boiler in stock and was able to replace the boiler within days to get heat back into the building.
“We’re respectfully requesting that you approve the funds to cover this cost for the college from the deferred maintenance account that you approved earlier this year,” Hutchins said.
Those capital reserve maintenance accounts for long-term facilities upkeep were established as part of the overall 2012-13 county budget. The funds were approved at $370,000 total. encompassing $150,000 for the county, $112,500 for Sampson County Schools, $56,250 for Clinton City Schools and $56,250 for Sampson Community College.
At the 2012-13 budget public hearing earlier this year, Hutchins said the then-proposed budget provided some “sorely needed funds” for the college and urged the board to approve the plan. Larry Barnes, chairman of the SCC Board of Trustees, commended the county’s forward thinking on coming up with a facility maintenance upkeep plan.
“I think it will demonstrate great vision by this commission to approve this budget so these long-term deferred maintenance issues can be addresses to meet the needs for the county, the school systems and the college,” Hutchins said at the time.
He revisited those comments during the board’s recent meeting.
“This request is really the kind of thing that led me to come earlier this year when you were deliberating your budget process to speak in favor of the deferred maintenance account,” said Hutchins. “We certainly would hope that throughout an academic year that things like this wouldn’t occur but from time to time, but (they) do.”
Commissioner Albert Kirby additionally noted previous discussions about the college’s effort to “spruce up” the facilities for the upcoming accreditation, an issue Starling hit on in his letter. Hutchins said it was crucial to keep budgeted funds intact and draw on the reserve funds to take care of the unexpected maintenance expense.
“We’re in a year-long preparation for the visiting committee, which will come in October to review the college concerning reaffirmation of accreditation,” Hutchins said. “That is absolutely critical, not just to Sampson Community College but any community college in this country. If these funds weren’t approved tonight, what it would cost the college to have to do is to use some of the funds that you’ve been so kind to allow us to prepare for that visit for this boiler.”
Commissioner Jarvis McLamb made a motion to approve the use of capital maintenance reserve funds, seconded by Kirby. The vote was unanimous.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.