SHERIDAN — On Aug. 20, voters will go to the polls and decide whether to support a $15.85 million bond measure to fund renovation and new construction for Sheridan College’s Tech Center, which houses the machine tool, welding and diesel technology programs.
If approved by voters, the project will involve construction of new facility space of 27,205 square feet and renovation of approximately 25,795 square feet of existing space. Sheridan College President Dr. Paul Young said by renovating and reusing much of the current building, the project is saving approximately $4-5 million dollars.
“I know it is a lot of money, but it is a frugal project and we are going to get a lot of bang for our buck for a lot of years and that is what we need,” he said, noting that if constructed, the new building would be expected to be in use for the next 50 years.
Young said the $15.85 million estimate for the cost of the building has been arrived at using several methods and was developed by Knapp Architecture, Drafting and Design Firm of Boulder, Colo.
Young noted that because of their long history with the college, the firm is familiar with the campus, needs of the faculty, local labor and materials costs and other details that can influence the cost of the project. He said the firm also uses information from national databases on similar construction projects across the country to arrive at an estimated per-square-foot cost for the project. The per-square-foot costs include electrical upgrades, ventilation and other costs.
“They’ve been doing master planning on this campus for 20 years,” Young said. “We use them on every project when we have to estimate what space is needed and what it will cost. They are a professional firm and they are very, very good at this.”
Despite the estimates, Young acknowledged that some members of the public may question whether the actual cost may run much higher if the bond measure is approved and construction begins. He said there are “escalation” measures factored into the estimate and if it does appear overages would occur in part of the project, funds from other areas of the project would be cut to make sure the entire project remains on or under budget.
“You find ways to cut back,” he said. “We always manage within our budget; that is the way the board of trustees runs this college. We’ve never had a cost overrun and we’ve never been over schedule or over budget on one of our projects, so we have a lot of experience and a lot of confidence in these numbers.”
If approved, the bond measure will expire in 16 years whether or not the full amount has been raised. Alternatively, it can end earlier if the full amount is reached.
“It can’t be any longer than 16 years,” Young explained, pointing out that the length of the bond is dictated by law. “It can be less, if county valuation goes up and there are more taxpayers paying in, it wouldn’t take as long to pay back. In all likelihood, these things get retired sooner than the limit, but by law, it cannot be any longer than that.”
Young noted that the $15.85 million figure is just for renovation and new construction of the building. However, there is an estimated additional $3 million that will be needed for installing new equipment in the facility. Young said that this amount will be raised through grants, private donations and donations from industry, not taxpayers.
The bond measure also includes a “sinking fund” of $1.1 million that will be set aside for future maintenance costs for the building.
“The sinking fund is a permanent maintenance endowment,” Young said. “We will use the interest to fix things when they go bad. This is a statutory requirement for any project funded this way in the state of Wyoming.”
If the bond measure passes, bid documents will be released and engineers and architects will begin work on more detailed blueprints and designs.
Young said possible benefits of the new building will flow not only to students of the college, but to the wider community.
“We’re going to be able to produce more trained workers the industry needs which will help us retain existing industries and attract new ones which keep our economy going here,” he said. “Second, (the center would create) more opportunities for young people to get training for jobs where they actually earn a good living and stay here in Sheridan and not have to leave Wyoming.”
The college is offering several tours in the coming weeks for members of the public to see the facility and speak with administrators. Young said anyone not able to make upcoming tech center tours are welcome to contact the President’s Office to make arrangements for an alternative time to visit.
“The public owns this college,” he said. “Don’t feel shy about coming and taking a look. If you are on the fence that we don’t need this facility, just come out and look and let me show you around. Maybe you won’t agree, but you really need to see it for yourself. You need to come see everything we are doing out here and we are happy to show it to you.”
Site development $162,500
Renovation and remodel of current space $4,160,975
Addition of new space $6,843,625
Architect and engineering costs $1,044,000
Information technology $389,925
Testing and commission $143,500
Temporary program relocation $200,000
Bond issue costs $200,000
Sinking fund $ 1,109,500
Total cost $15,850,000
$216 per square foot