Bond Oversight Committee applauds construction success

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Committee member proposes economic stimulus report for next mååeeting.

By Regis L. Roberts

The district’s Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee’s Monday meeting was a congratulatory affair.

 President Robert Zeigler said the college’s new parking garage — an early child of the $450 million bond — was completed and opened smoothly.

John Strybos, associate vice chancellor of facilities, said if progress continues at a steady pace, all the other projects should be completed just as smoothly as the garage.

He said a major obstacle in the relative fluidity of progress is the rain, which has slowed recently although the campus experienced a light downpour earlier that day.

Other bond projects on this campus moving at a satisfactory rate for Strybos are the nursing and allied health building and the academic center, both at their halfway point.

One area where construction is not going quite as planned is participation by historically underutilized businesses, or HUB, in capital improvement projects.

District policy is required to award 20 percent of its subcontracts to small-, women- and minority-owned business enterprises, or SWMBE.

Weston Martinez, an engineer at AT&T who is also running for the District 9 City Council seat, asked what the participation rate was for HUB businesses.

Michael Malone, project manager for Vaughn Construction, said HUB subcontractor contracts currently total $6,233,152, but that participation of HUB businesses was running lower than was originally planned. HUB participation for the garage was about 10 percent, the academic center is 15.5 percent and the nursing building is about 13 percent HUB participation.

While the current level of HUB participation is below the goal of 20 percent, Malone said Vaughn hopes to increase it by continuing to get the word out that the district is ripe with construction contracts. He said information about the contracts is regularly advertised in the classified advertising section of the San Antonio Express-News.

Martinez, who has participated in the bond oversight committee for three years and was involved in getting the bond passed in 2005, was the most vocal in his concerns about making sure voters get what they were promised.

“The hope here is we keep our word,” he said.

Already the district has had to postpone 11 projects estimated to cost $68 million because of inflation.

Martinez proposed coming up with an economic impact report for the next committee meeting, which will be at Northeast Lakeview College March 10.

Martinez said that for every dollar spent on economic stimulus projects, the public should expect to receive $7 in economic returns.

The nursing and allied health building, for example, will hopefully bring in people from out of town to enroll, thus creating new housing markets and more work in the service sector to meet the needs of the new population, he said.

It is important that voters know where their money is going and how it will benefit them, he said, which is why these oversight meetings are important.

In other business, the committee briefly went over the CIP budget to reflect changes as of Jan. 31.

Interest has increased the budget by $17,552,052, and St. Philip’s and Northwest Vista colleges received an extra $1 million and $488,615 respectively for their CIP budgets.

These funds came from a department of education Title 3 grant for St. Philip’s, and Northwest Vista used money from residual operational funds from 2007, Strybos said.

With these changes, the new CIP budget is $469,040,667.

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