LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously agreed to support Robeson Community College’s plan to move forward with an energy-grade investment audit, which is needed before the college enters into a contract for energy improvements intended to save money.
The improvements would be for all the buildings on RCC’s main campus in Lumberton and at COMtech.
According to Pamela Hilbert, RCC’s president, the audit will cost an estimated $103,000 and be conducted by Brady Trane Company, which is located in Morrisville. A preliminary on-site review of RCC facilities has identified energy savings ranging from $88,000 to $225,000 a year.
Performance contracts have been used successfully at several North Carolina community colleges, including Lenoir, Edgecombe and Carteret, Hilbert said. Money available from energy savings is used to pay back any loan needed to fund the project. Brady Trane estimates that the project at RCC will run between $1 million and $2.5 million.
“The investment grade audit is a four-month process,” Hilbert told the commissioners. “It is needed so that we can say how much we need to borrow and put into the contract.”
Hilbert told the commissioners that their support of the investment grade audit will not cost the county any additional money.
“If the trustees decide after the audit to enter into a performance contract, the cost of the audit is rolled into the cost of the entire project,” she said. “If they opt not to pursue a contract, county money that is already in our budget will have to be moved around to cover the audit’s cost.”
Hilbert said that if the performance contract is pursued after the audit, the commissioners will have to pass a resolution stating that the county will not reduce its utilities funding for RCC for the life of the contract, which in this case would probably be 16 years.
The resolution is a requirement of the state Local Government Commission, which must approve any performance contract entered into by a community college. A project will not be approved by the commission without such a commitment from the local board of commissioners.
In other business, the commissioners heard a presentation from Dr. David Brooks, owner of Pembroke Veterinary Hospital, concerning the upcoming countywide rabies clinics and SNIP. The events are sponsored by the Robeson County Veterinary Medical Association.
The rabies clinics begin Monday and run through Aug. 28. They are being held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for one night at each of the county’s 32 fire departments. The cost to each pet owner for one pet is $5. The commissioners voted Monday to pay the veterinarians the extra $3 that it costs to vaccinate each animal.
“I think this is a small amount for the good this will do,” said Brooks.
Brooks cited statistics provided by Bill Smith, the director of the county’s Health Department, stating that there have already been four confirmed rabies cases, a dog, cat, fox and raccoon, this year in Robeson County.
Brooks said that the semiannual SNIP program will be offered by appointment only at the county’s six veterinary hospitals from Sept. 8 to Sept. 18. During this period, pet owners can have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered at a discount. The discount, Brooks said, is what the veterinarians would charge animal welfare organizations, such as the Humane Society, for these services.
“This allows anyone to get a discount for having their animals spayed or neutered,” Brooks said. “There are no special requirements such as one’s income.”
The commissioners held a moment of silence in honor of Tommy Wellington, a former member of the board who was killed Monday in a car crash. Wellington served as a commissioner representing District 6, which includes the Saddletree community, from 2005 to 2010. His wife Joyce and a son Jamie also died in the accident.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.