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Rising costs for new Del Mar campus worry taxpayers' group

Proposed Del Mar College southside campus
Posted at 7:41 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 20:49:42-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The budget for part of the new Del Mar college southside campus will be discussed during tomorrow's board of regents meeting.

The board will decide approval of the $107 million dollar price tag for Package 2 of the project, which includes a library, an administration building, a stem building and a culinary arts building.

Minor changes will include eliminating a fourth floor terrace on the library and a walkway. Despite these deletions, the cost of the project has increased by about $20 million.

Some of the bids were as high at $122 million, which is $35 million more than the estimated cost.

But the board of regents and a construction company were able to negotiate, meeting in the middle at $107 million.

That cost is still within the $139 million approved by voters during a 2016 bond.

But many like the president of the Tax Payers Association believe the numbers just don't add up.

"They are really upset,” said Del Mar College professor Gerald Sansing. “All the taxpayers around here that pay attention. And we don't want our kids to be paying for that for 30 years."

Sansing has been teaching as a professor at del mar college for 30 years. He’s been around since the board of regents began the southside campus.

"They said we were bursting at the seams with students which has not panned out,” he said.

But as we’ve reported in a previous 6 Investigates story, in the fall of 2015, Del Mar College reported it had almost 11,000 students.

But the school claimed it had 50,000 enrollments, failing to mention many of those students are part of workforce training or dual-credit programs and don't even need to go to campus.

So it’s not so much “bursting at the seams” as you may think.

When asked for the need of a southside campus, Sansing had a quick answer.

“As far as I can determine, none,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement from Del Mar College, they say they did what they could to negotiate the $107 million price tag “without sacrificing construction quality or losing any teaching space from the new buildings."

But now, tomorrow’s vote is on a project that's gone up significantly in price.

And many, like those who are part of the Tax Payers Association, will be there to share their concerns.

Sansing says another reason he does not see the need for a southside campus is because only about 35 percent of the classrooms are used on the east campus.

And less than 25 percent on the west campus.

Construction has been pushed back.

Work on the buildings and parking lot will now begin next spring and is expected to be finished in 2022.

Tomorrow's board of regents meeting will begin at 11 a.m.