Archive for Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Regents catalog looming repairs

Needed maintenance tops $584 million at state universities

October 5, 2004


— Need a fixer-upper?

Kansas' public universities need $584.5 million to take care of a backlog of maintenance and repairs, according to a report released Monday.

"Heating, ventilation, electrical and plumbing systems, if they haven't already been replaced, are either worn out or are about to wear out," said Eric King, director of facilities for the Kansas Board of Regents.

The repair bill was tabulated after a facilities audit of the 537 academic and administration buildings at the state's six public universities. The audited buildings didn't include residence halls, student unions and parking garages.

"We're really going to be in big trouble in the next few years if we don't do something," said Sen. Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican who is chairman of the Legislative Budget Committee.

Kansas University tops the wish list, with $168.5 million in maintenance backlogs in Lawrence and $68.8 million at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Some of KU's larger maintenance and repair projects cited in the report include $14.3 million in renewal costs at Malott Hall, $10.6 million at Haworth Hall and $13.5 million at KU Med's Applegate Energy Center.

The state allocates about $10 million annually for maintenance, Morris said, but the study said it should be appropriating $74 million per year to prevent a further backlog of building problems.

He and other members of the budget committee told King to have the regents, who oversee higher education, put together a plan to address the maintenance backlog so Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Legislature could address the situation when lawmakers convene in January.

King said the increasing backlog of maintenance projects was partly due to the fact nearly 40 percent of the universities' buildings were built between 1960 and 1980 to accommodate the baby boom generation of students. Now those buildings need an overhaul.

"This isn't because they haven't been maintained," King said. "It is simply because the systems have reached the end of their useful life."

The problem has hit colleges across the nation, with the repair needs reaching an estimated $26 billion to $50 billion, he said.

The state needs to address the situation soon, King said, before it has to start replacing buildings that deteriorate beyond repair. The replacement value of the state's university buildings is $3.9 billion. Two-thirds of the buildings owned by the state are on the six public university campuses.

"If this problem is not addressed, today's deferred maintenance backlog of $584 million will grow to nearly $800 million by fiscal year 2014," King said.

The deferred maintenance also can lead to repair problems. A burst water pipe in June in the 80-year-old Murphy Hall, which is KU Med's main administration building, caused more than $1 million in flooding damage, officials said.

A look at the maintenance backlog on state university campuses:Kansas University -- $237.3 million (includes $168.5 million at Lawrence and $68.8 million at KU Med Center)Kansas State University -- $209.4 millionPittsburg State University -- $39.8 millionFort Hays State University -- $35.2 millionWichita State University -- $33.9 millionEmporia State University -- $28.9 millionSource: Kansas Board of Regents

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