University uses new fee to improve air conditioning, campus safety

The fee tacked on $90 each semester in the 2011-12 academic year, and students enrolling in classes this summer session will shell out another $54 toward on-campus renovations and repairs.

Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison said the need for such a fee began last year, when the state discontinued its provision of renovation money to the University.

“In a city like Bloomington that has about $4 billion worth of fiscal assets, things are going to break down and need to be replaced,” he said, adding that in the last few years, U.S. stimulus funds provided the money for those replacements and repairs.
When the stimulus funds ran out, he said, the state was not able to replace them, and a need for the Temporary Repair and Rehabilitation Fee arose.

Morrison said the fee will stick around until Indiana’s fiscal situation improves.
“We’re very much aware that any fee can be challenging for our students, but we’re faced with some difficult choices,” Associate Vice President of University Communications Mark Land said.

The student Temporary Repair and Rehabilitation Fee from the fall, spring and summer provided about $6.9 million to fund various projects on campus. Other University budgets contributed an additional $7.1 million toward repairs, bringing the total allotment for University repairs and rehabilitation to $14 million.

“To give you an idea of magnitude, the state formula for R and R generated approximately $20 million annually for Bloomington,” Morrison said. “So, we are still far short of fulfilling the need.”

Morrison said projects catering to increased safety and improved infrastructure were the priority when using the money obtained via the temporary fee.

One of the largest projects funded by this year’s fees is a new chiller facility being installed “any time now,” Morrison said. The facility, known as M-100 (Machine Room-100), will allow for increased air conditioning capacity on campus and address the problem of having to curtail cooling in campus buildings during the warmest months of the year.

The facility will be installed in the area just north of the Musical Arts Center and will cost about $4.3 million, Morrison said. Campus-wide installation and repair of chiller facilities accounts for about $5 million of the total $12 million.

In addition to the new chiller facility, improvements to fire safety account for about $1 million. This includes the replacement of smoke detectors, fire alarms and exit lights across campus.

The roof of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs building is currently undergoing replacement. About $1 million was designated for roof replacements and repairs across campus.

About $500,000 was allotted for ramp upgrades and sidewalk repairs. This includes the replacement of brick paths in the Old Crescent and the installation of a new wheelchair ramp outside the Herman B Wells Library. Morrison said he hopes the ramp, currently being designed, will be built this

Smaller projects included the replacement of non-insulated manhole covers, which posed a safety hazard when steam caused the covers to become hot. About $175,000 was allotted for the installation of insulated manhole covers, which Morrison said are safer for students and others on campus.

Beyond safety and infrastructure improvements, Morrison said funds from the Temporary Repair and Rehabilitation Fee are being used for classroom renovation, improving them technologically and structurally.

The Map Room in the Student Building will be renovated into a lecture hall, costing around $850,000.

Because projects are still ongoing and situations are constantly changing, there is no finalized breakdown of funds. The Board of Trustees will vote on the budget when it convenes in April.

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