By Tom Collins
Arizona Daily Wildcat October 28, 1996
UA buildings are in disrepair to the tune of $90 million, but the director of Facilities Management said putting more money in may not be the solution.
Falling under the category of deferred maintenance, projects around campus that are not pressing are put off, sometimes for years.
Albert Tarcola, director of University of Arizona Facilities Management said waste of energy, deteriorating floors and worn out restrooms are the kind problems that fall under the heading of deferred maintenance.
"It's primarily due to lack of funds," said John Adams, UA facilities project manager.
The campus has $91.35 million in deferred maintenance needs, according to an Arizona Board of Regents report done last year.
Tarcola said the $91 million figure represents the cost of restoring campus buildings if all the money were available at once.
As it stands, Tarcola said facilities management's goal is to work with the funds they have to lower the remaining deferred maintenance costs to between $25 and $30 million over seven to 10 years.
Adams said the building renewal process is now starting.
Building renewal involves upgrading buildings to keep them "useful." Adams said this is a problem on campuses around the country.
Deferred maintenance is estimated at $159.2 million for the state's four campuses, according to the regents' report. In 1996, the Arizona Legislature allocated $19.2 million to deal with deferred maintenance, the report stated.
"It comes down to there just never being enough money," said Regent Art Chapa.
Chapa said deferred maintenance was a priority for the regents, but the legislature does not always grant what is asked for.
The issue of deferred maintenance comes before the board yearly, Chapa said.
"It's part of the package of costs we consider," he said.
Tarcola said the problem of deferred maintenance has the attention of UA administrators, regents and state legislators.
But, Tarcola said, "There are other ways to do things other than throwing money at it (deferred maintenance)."
In preparing buildings for the future, Tarcola said creative problem solving is a necessity.
Routine maintenance and matters of health and safety are continually taken care of on campus, but it is the larger, less obvious problems that lack the money necessary for the repairs, Adams said.
"They add up to a tremendous amount of dollars," he said. "It's not so much the leaky faucet, but that the whole unit is in a deteriorated state."
For example, he said previous building renewal projects have included re-roofing campus buildings and renovating Speech and Hearing Sciences.
Speech and Hearing Sciences was renovated by closing some classrooms and offices as they were worked on, Adams said.
Tarcola said current classroom renovations in the Harvill Building are an example of the work involved in building renewal projects.
"We have virtually made that building new," he said.
Adams said, "We have not taken a building out of commission and renovated."
Both Adams and Tarcola said that idea has been considered, however.
This year, the UA will be doing a different kind of study to get a better idea just how much building renewal is necessary, Adams said. He said a team of five inspectors will be looking at a sample including one-third of campus buildings.
Studies have been done by computer model, he said.
Older buildings require work to meet the legal and technological requirements of the next century, Adams said.
According to last year's study, the average UA building is 30 years old.
"We've got to protect what we have already have." Chapa said.