Topeka — The Kansas Senate laid the foundation this week for stronger funding of capital improvement projects at Board of Regents universities.
On Tuesday the Senate approved a bill that divides $17.3 million among seven regents institutions for dozens of repair, maintenance, remodeling and construction projects.
The money would be appropriated next fiscal year from the Educational Building Fund, created by the Legislature and financed with a small statewide tax.
If the bill is accepted by the House and Gov. Mike Hayden, $2.6 million would be spent for 24 projects at Kansas University and $1.2 million for 18 projects at KU Medical Center.
THE BILL designates $8 million for systemwide "major repairs, special maintenance, remodeling and energy conservation." This was the regents' top capital improvement priority.
"As far as maintenance and repairs is concerned this probably will be the best year in the history of state higher education," Warren Corman, regents facilities director, said today.
During the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, regents institutions divided $4 million for systemwide projects. In FY 1989, the amount was $2.5 million.
OF THE $8 million in next year's budget, KU's Lawrence campus would receive $2.1 million for 23 projects. The five most expensive projects on KU's list are:
$799,000 to fix the roof on Allen Fieldhouse.
$270,000 to replace 6,000 feet of high-voltage cable.
$105,000 to renovate underground storage tanks.
$82,500 to install a sprinkler system in part of Dyche Hall.
$80,000 to inspect and repair air conditioning in Watson Library and Robinson, Dyche, Blake, and Art and Design halls.
From the remainder of the building fund appropriation, $486,000 was earmarked by the Senate for a major utility analysis on the Lawrence campus.
Corman said regents, Hayden, university officials and many legislators agree more must be spent to protect the state's 600 campus buildings, worth about $2.5 billion.
SINCE 1961, the EBF has grown 108 percent, while the Consumer Price Index increased 307 percent and the Building Construction Cost Index increased 394 percent.
"The Educational Building Fund hasn't come close to keeping pace with construction costs," Corman said. "It's kind of scary."
However, the bill contains a provision for multiyear financing that targets $8 million for systemwide projects in FY 1991, $9 million in FY 1992 and $10 million in FY 1993.
"We've been working toward this for 25 years," he said. "The rationale is that we can plan . . . a project this year and know the money will be there to do it next year."
Sen. Joe Harder, R-Moundridge, said the bill leaves a $500,000 balance in the building fund. Allocations were based on the assumption the fund's revenue stream won't be diverted.
"This is predicated on a levy of one mill," Harder told senators during the floor debate. "If they (House members) cut the levy, none of these figures are valid."