Arizona Daily Wildcat October 15, 1997
ASUA Senate passes Union referendum amendmentWhen ASUA senators endorsed the long-awaited Student Union referendum last week, they added one stipulation: no academic bonds can be used to finance the university's contribution to the project.
Associated Students Sen. Cisco Aguilar made the amendment, which passed unanimously, because he believed the bonds would cause tuition to rise.
Academic bonds, which can be used to raise money for large projects, allow universities to sell debt on the open market. Those holding bond certificates become creditors.
"I think it lets the administration know where we stand as students," Aguilar said. "It's not legally binding, but I am confident they will do it."
Dean of Students Melissa Vito said the amendment wouldn't cause a problem for administrators and was "smart protection" for the students.
"All along we thought this might come up," she said. "We didn't really build bonding into the financial plan."
University of Arizona Chief Budget Officer Dick Roberts agreed with Vito.
"I don't think it's a terribly major issue, but it is a legitimate concern," he said. "Under certain conditions it would be a pressure for tuition, but it's not nearly as direct as students tend to think of it."
Roberts said he didn't believe the amendment would slow the project's progress.
ASUA President Gilbert Davidson said it was possible for the university to fund it without bonds.
"The way they have to do that is to take from other areas, and think of other ways to come up with the money." he said. "It really puts more pressure on the university."
Last year the university paid $17 million in debt service on academic bonds for several university buildings, Roberts said. The bonds are for 20 years and will expire in 2011 and 2012.
But Roberts said that money can't automatically be put toward other university projects, such as the Memorial Student Union, when the bonds end.
"The money is freed up in the revenue stream," he said, "but the state can decide that we can put that money into our own programming and reduce our funding."
Other sources of funding for the Student Union project have yet to be finalized.
The university issued a request for proposal to beverage vendors last May, offering a 10-year exclusive contract on campus, Roberts said.
The university is in the third round of discussion with three vendors, Roberts said, and may have a final decision in 45 days.