Berkeley County should deliver on its promise to TCC
There are lots of reasons that Berkeley County Council should agree on a way to continue paying its pledge to help pay for Trident Technical College’s new nursing and science building. Among them:
» Council twice voted unanimously (once in August of 2010 and once in June of 2011) to support the project.
» TTC’s nursing program is very successful, with 100 percent of its graduates becoming board certified.
» Because South Carolina State University plans to close its bachelor of science in nursing program (its graduates fared poorly on national testing for licensed registered nurses) the already high demand at TTC could well grow.
» TTC, with more first-time freshmen than any other college in South Carolina, is a key component in the area’s economic engine.
» Berkeley County residents would benefit directly from the investment.
In 2010, TTC President Mary Thornley, unable to get state funding for a $30 million building to fill a pressing need, asked the three counties for their support. Charleston County floated bonds so it could contribute $18 million. Dorchester County agreed to pay $4.5 million, and is doing so over a five-year period.
And Berkeley County Council enthusiastically took on $7.5 million of the tab. It has made payments the last two years, but is hung up now because members are split over where the money should come from.
Some think the best source would be increased taxes. Others want to use the county’s fund balance, which exceeds the amount generally considered necessary.
Trident Tech’s nursing program has a long waiting list, but a lack of space has kept the school from admitting more qualified students. Students (a significant number from Berkeley County) and employers both want that to change. And as has been testified to over and over, TTC is one of the Lowcountry’s biggest assets. It is very appealing to businesses considering a move to the area — or an expansion of existing business.
What’s going on in Berkeley County is not an indictment of TTC. It’s politics.
As our Brenda Rindge has reported, Berkeley County Council votes tend to be split evenly between two factions.
That is expected to change in January when Ken Gunn replaces council member Bob Call.
That means that if Council cannot agree on a way to pay its obligation before then, it will likely happen in January. Given council’s previous commitment, why wait?
Trident Technical College should be given the necessary assurances and support so that it can continue and enhance its considerable contributions to life and financial health in the Lowcountry.