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Expense for new college soaring

Nobody said education was cheap. But $1.73 million?

A Livingston construction company won the low bid to construct the higher education center planned to open next fall in Demopolis, and even that low bid came in more expensive than city officials expected.

The center, which has been dubbed a number of things over the past year, will be called Alabama Southern Community College-Demopolis University Center.

Nearly one year ago, the city of Demopolis was awarded a $1.25 million grant from the Delta Regional Authority. After a delay of nearly four months, the city finally secured the money to construct the higher education center, but the city didn’t expect to pay this much.

Accepting the bid from RAC Construction doesn’t necessarily mean the city will have to pay $1.73 million to get the

For instance, one of the items planned for the higher education center is a cupola that will sit on the roof of the building.

Even with the cuts, though, the city of Demopolis may be committed to a lot more than just the $1.7 million it will take to construct the college.

Along with the $1.25 million awarded from the grant, the city agreed to match $500,000 toward the project. And for the next 10 years, the city will pay $100,000 to help get the college started.

At Thursday’s council meeting, Caldwell suggested that most of the $500,000 from the city will come from "in-kind" service. In other words, the city’s share of the money will come from city employees who can help construct the college.

But Pettus isn’t sure the city has the resources or personnel to contribute $500,000 from in-kind service.

While the city has personnel that can build a ball field, Pettus said finding the professional personnel to construct an education center may not be so easy.

Other projects where the city will provide in-kind service will come from installing some of the utilities and "begging" companies like Alabama Power to help run power lines to the building.

Caldwell and Pettus both said the construction company and the architects &045; PH&J Architects &045; will work to reduce the cost of the construction. Once that happens, city officials expect construction to begin later this year.