[ NEWS ]








By Tory Hernandez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 30, 1997

Price of new Student Union goes up

The cost of a new Memorial Student Union went up yesterday and a group of student leaders and administrators continued to discuss the impact of a student fee to pay the price.

The group is negotiating a student fee referendum to be voted on in November.

Dick Roberts, the university's chief budget officer, told the group, the renovation project's price tag was closer to $70 million than the previously released $60 million.

Dan Adams, the Student Union director, said

it makes sense to get everything done right.

"When you get into it, you have to do it all," he said.

Despite the new Student Union cost estimate, the student fee, originally estimated at $50, may now be only $40 a semester.

Dean of Students Melissa Vito said she felt "most comfortable" with a fee around $40 per semester.

"That will still challenge the institution to come forth with some funds," she said.

Associated Students President Gilbert Davidson said he did not want students paying for fixed costs of renovations, currently at $14.6 million. The fixed costs include improvements that must be made to get the building up to various codes.

"It's not the students' fault that the university messed up by not doing the correct improvements a long time ago," he said. "Students should not be asked to pay for that."

The building is in violation of several fire and safety codes.

"The only way were are able to skate around that issue is because the fire marshal believes we are working on improving it," Roberts said. "But at any time, they could come in, chain the doors shut and tell us no one gets in until those changes are made," he said.

There is still uncertainty in the group on how the money will be managed. Several students said they were concerned that if excess money was generated, the university would not pay its share.

Roberts recommended creating a reserve fund with a certain percentage of the fees. He said this would be the "safety net," used if enrollment dropped below expected numbers and the collected fees didn't cover the payments on the Student Union project.

The extra funds could be used in several other ways, such as a sinking fund. In this alternative, extra money would be set aside until it equaled the remaining debt payment. The bond would then be paid off and the fee would be eliminated, possibly earlier than assumed.

"There is no need and no desire to make students pay more than is required, but we need to make it large enough to have that safety net," Roberts said.

Roberts also said once the fee is set, the university will be obligated to pay for any costs greater than what is estimated.

Davidson made the recommendation of a $40 per semester fee, paid over 25 years with an estimated 32,000 enrollment.

With the bookstore and the Student Union itself contributing funds, the university is left to make up $22.2 million over the same time period.

(LAST_SECTION)  - (Wildcat Chat)  - (NEXT_STORY)