By Tory Hernandez
ASUA Senate to decide referendum
The ASUA Senate tonight will determine the fate of a proposed referendum designed to help fund $70 million of the Memorial Student Union renovations with a $40 student fee.
Senate passage of the referendum idea would allow the student body to vote on the fee Nov. 18 and 19, but the Senate can change the referendum's language or the levy amount before they vote.
Dean of Students Melissa Vito said the final version of the referendum would be finished early this morning.
"I'm hoping that they (senators) see the wisdom in what we are trying to accomplish," said UA Associated Students Bookstore director Frank Farias, a project supporter.
The bookstore will fund its own renovations as part of the Student Union.
"This is something I've been working on for eight years and something I'd like to see happen."
Even with student approval, the measure would still need a thumbs-up from the Arizona Board of Regents before collection begins.
Casey Cuny, Associated Students executive vice president and Senate head, said senators had a draft of the referendum wording yesterday.
Administrators and student leaders have been meeting weekly for the past month to decide on specifics of the referendum.
The group has come to a consensus on several issues which will probably be included in the final draft.
Those items include:
a sunset clause to terminate the fee at the end of 25 years, or sooner if excess funds allow
a student advisory group to monitor excess funds created by increased enrollment
a percentage of the fees set aside to support Student Union programs and activities
Under the referendum, students would foot $31.1 million, or 44 percent, of the $70 million cost. The other 56 percent would made up from university money and revenue from the UA Associated Students Bookstore and the campus' two student unions.
ASUA President Gilbert Davidson said he did not want students paying for fixed cost because it wasn't their fault proper improvements weren't made years ago.
The estimates are based on a 25-year bond at a 5.5 percent interest rate, and a 32,000 enrollment.
At that enrollment, the fee will collect about $2.56 million from students per year.
A group of students and administrators wrote the referendum's first draft last Friday. The draft has been circulating between the budget office, bookstore director, attorneys and business affairs office for more input, Vito said.
ASUA Senate meetings are open to the public and begin at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Student Union's Tucson Room.
Total cost of building $70 million
Expected student contribution $31.1 million
(based on $40 per semester x 32,000 enrollment x 25 years)
Expected Bookstore contribution $10.2 million
Expected Union contribution $6.5 million
University contribution $22.2 million
(includes fixed costs)