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Gainesville State building funds slashed

Legislature removes $6.2 million from project

POSTED: March 18, 2009 11:23 p.m.

House budget writers have slashed $6.2 million from a proposed academic building at Gainesville State College, leaving college officials with a planned building and not enough money to pay for it.

“The building is already designed,” said college president Martha Nesbitt. “We’d have to go back and completely redesign the building and take out a bunch of square footage.”

The legislature appropriated funds in the current budget to design a multi-story building with a price tag of $31.2 million. The revised budget reduces it to $25 million, saving the state $562,000 in annual bond payments.

The news of the reduction came as a shock to Nesbitt.

“Right now, I’m not sure how we’re going to make it to 2011,” she said. “We would be in that building in the summer of 2011 in time for fall. I’m seriously having to look at capping enrollment because we are so close to totally being out of space on the Gainesville campus.”

State Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, said budget cuts are the order of the day at the Capitol.

“Everybody is taking a cut,” Mills said. “Nobody is being targeted.”

Mills said he supports Gainesville State and would work to see if the funds can be restored.

The Georgia House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a budget that spends $18.6 billion in state funds. It slashes about $1.6 billion from what the state originally was planning to spend for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget uses about $1.4 billion in stimulus cash.

Tax collections in Georgia have plummeted, leaving a budget gap that has continued to widen. That prompted Perdue to lower the revenue estimate, or the amount the state may spend in a fiscal year.

The budget contains some layoffs throughout state agencies as the state looks to trim down.

The House did not change the governor’s proposal of $14 million to design and construct Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier. It also left $10.4 million for renovations to four buildings at North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega.

Also approved was $13.6 million in bonds to fund a replace laboratory for the Georgia Poultry Improvement Association in Oakwood.

The House budget writing panel OK’d the budget by voice vote on Wednesday. The full House is scheduled to take it up Thursday.

It will then move to the state Senate.

That chamber’s top budget writer said Wednesday that he was “concerned” the state was dipping heavily into stimulus money that the state might need in future years.

“Sooner or later the state’s got to start growing (it’s revenue),” said Sen. Jack Hill, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We’re filling continuing costs with one-time money but in a recession like this, that’s probably what you have to do.”



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