Last fall, Guilford County Technical Community College leaders asked the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to promise $11.1 million to begin to build a $147 million Aviation Training Center on GTCC’s Cameron Campus near Colfax – and the commissioners agreed.

This week, on Thursday, April 18, during an afternoon work session, the board tried to figure out how to make good on the promise it made last year.

Once they figure that out, they’ll have to come up with more money for the project: The $11 million and change only pays for Phase 1.  Actually, it only pays for the county’s part of Phase 1. The total cost of Phase 1 is $34.6 million.  GTCC wants to see the additional $23.5 million come from the state.

Piedmont Triad International Airport has been attracting a lot of new aviation jobs with its 1,000-acre aviation megasite, and GTCC plans to train many of those workers on the coming campus that will be built in northeastern Guilford County.

At the April 18 work session, Guilford County Finance Director Don Warn presented several options for coming up with the $11 million.

The choices include General Obligation bonds that voters would have to approve, using Two-Thirds Bonds (bonds that don’t need voter approval and are limited to two-thirds of the amount of the General Obligation debt paid off in a previous year), using Limited Obligation Bonds, or an installment loan.

“Then, of course, there’s ‘pay go.’ Warn said.  “You pay $11 million and that would be that.”

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston asked Warn his recommendation.

“Staff recommends issuing Lobs,” he said.

“What did you say?” Alston asked.


The commissioners had no idea what he was saying since the word had never been uttered once in the history of Guilford County commissioners’ meetings.

“What’s that?” Alston asked.

“Limited obligation bonds,” Warn said.

“We don’t know about Lobs,” Alston said, adding that the commissioners would prefer the discussion be conducted “in English.”

That type of bond would not be backed by the full faith and credit of the county but instead secured by a deed to the property until the loan was paid off.

The commissioners asked Guilford County Manager Mike Halford what he recommended.

“I don’t have a recommendation right now,” Halford told the board.

He said Lobs may be the option at that time the money is needed; however, the money will not be needed for some time and it may depend on future financial conditions or other considerations such as the complexity of having a bank hold the deed to the campus.

During the conversation, the commissioners discovered that GTCC had $3.7 million left over in its general fund – essentially a savings account.  It was left over from money the county had previously given the community college.

The board seemed to form a strong consensus that GTCC should contribute most of the $3.7 million it held in savings.

Commissioner Pat Tillman, who served on the Guilford County Board of Education before becoming a commissioner, got a laugh from the room when he commented, “I know when I was with the school board the commissioners always beat us up for having our fund balance.”.