End of Legislative Session Signals New Beginnings at DCTC

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders reached an agreement on Sunday, May 18, that ended the 2008 legislative session and signaled the beginning of many new projects and initiatives across the State, including at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC).

DCTC received $200,000 to fund the schematic design for a Transportation and Emerging Technologies renovation, $4 million to completely re-roof the main building in Rosemount, and $200,000 to complete electrical work on the chiller’s cooling towers. The funding is part of a $234 million bonding bill for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system – the largest the system has ever received – which includes $56.9 million in user financing to be paid by the system.

“We are pleased to have received the funding and look forward to getting things underway,” said DCTC President Ron Thomas. “These projects will allow us to operate more efficiently, and will be an important first step for moving forward with our vision for the Transportation and Emerging Technologies area.”

DCTC Director of Operations Paul DeMuth says that work to re-roof the building will begin in June and continue through November, and the electrical work on the chiller’s cooling towers will be completed early next winter.

“There is going to be a lot of noise and construction happening over the summer, but the good news is that we will get some very big projects done in one shot,” said DeMuth. “The end result will be well worth any inconveniences we might face while completing the work.”

DCTC administrators and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Design Selection Board will work over the summer with various architecture firms to select a firm to complete the schematic design and later phases of the Transportation and Emerging Technologies renovation.

The firm selected will use the $200,000 in bonding money to develop a design schematic that will include renovations to 98,000 square feet of DCTC’s building; promote all energy efficiency in mechanical and electrical system, daylight use, site orientation, and materials selection; further support science, technology, engineering, and math initiatives at the college, and will eliminate $3.5 million in deferred maintenance projects.

“The Transportation and Emerging Technologies renovation will be a major improvement for DCTC not only operationally, but also academically,” said DeMuth. “The students in the programs housed in that area are in very tight quarters, and the renovation will allow them to have a more technologically advanced and larger workspace.”

Once the design schematics are in hand, DeMuth anticipates that DCTC will make a renovation request for $6.5 million in 2010 and 2012 to complete the project.

One DCTC project that did not pass as part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities bonding bill was its request for $3.5 million to acquire 105 acres of University of Minnesota land that the college has leased since 1989. The land houses training facilities used by several of the college’s technical and transportation-related programs.

“We were disappointed that this project was line-item vetoed by the Gov. Pawlenty, but we are prepared to develop a community-wide taskforce and work with business and industry to secure the property,” said President Thomas. “The transportation and technical industries have a great need for the type of training that we offer on the land currently leased from the University of Minnesota, and we want to ensure that we will be able to continue providing this type of training.”

In addition to passing the $234 bonding bill, legislators also created an omnibus supplemental budget bill that made everyone part of the solution to resolve the $935 million state budget deficit for fiscal year 2009. This included the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which received a cut of $8.6 million. Of this cut, $7.6 million is base money, with an additional $1 million one-time to be taken from the central reserves in fiscal year 2008. The tails going into the next biennium, FY2010-11, are a cut of $7.7 million a year, or a biennium total of $15.4 million.

The bill includes rider language that says $5 million of the cut is to be taken from technology and the remaining amount is to come from the Office of the Chancellor budget, not affecting campuses. The bill also includes tuition language that says the system is to appropriate $9 million to buy-down tuition to 2 percent at colleges and 3 percent at universities. Other agreements were made as part of the budget bill, which can be viewed at www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=ccrhf1812C.html&session=ls85

Overall, the system’s budget increase over the 2008-2009 biennium will be $143.9 million, a net reduction of about $7.9 million from the $151.8 million increase approved in last year’s session.

“We know that difficult decisions had to be made in order to balance the budget,” said Thomas. “What we don’t know is exactly how those decisions will impact the system. As more details develop, we will continue to communicate with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to let them know what is happening.”