The state funding backlog to fix deteriorating university buildings sits at $825 million, according to a report to be delivered to the Kansas Board of Regents this week.
The report examined buildings at all six regents institutions in the state. Kansas University’s share of the total amount of money needed is more than $316 million — a figure accounting for both the Lawrence and medical center campuses.
The figures represent the level needed to bring the buildings up to 90 percent of the value of the replacement cost. The study was completed last fall.
It’s a problem that’s existed for years, and it’s not likely to get better soon as the state continues to run out of money, said Jim Modig, KU’s director of design and construction management.
“It’s like an automobile that has lots and lots of miles on it,” he said of the KU campus. “You maintain them as well as you can.”
Sometimes parts can be hard to find, he said, and with a limited amount of money available, it can get difficult to fix things before they break down completely.
“It’s just very, very difficult to know when that’s going to happen,” Modig said.
The report lists several KU buildings in need of expensive repairs. In the report, Malott Hall, with $17.8 million in needed repairs, and Haworth Hall, with $11.8 million in needed repairs, are among the most expensive repair projects at KU.
Modig said some work had been done in the previous two years on both buildings addressing the most critical needs such as repairing fume hoods in labs and air ventilation systems. Still, much remains to be done.
The state has completed two years of a five-year plan to provide some funding for deferred maintenance costs, but Modig said he’s not sure if the funding will be available in the coming years because of the state budget shortfall.
Those efforts, including money for an upgrade to the university’s underground tunnel system, have helped to address the most urgent needs, Modig said.
In an effort to provide some funding help for deferred maintenance costs, the state provided a tax credit for individuals who donate money to assist the cause.
While individual institutions’ levels of funding raised are not listed in the report, it estimates the statewide level of funding will fall short of the Legislature’s expected level of $10.8 million raised in the program’s first year.
Dale Seuferling, president of the KU Endowment Association, said that since July 1, 2008 — the day the tax credit became available — KU has raised about $70,000 for deferred maintenance costs.
The association is trying to market the tax credit in different ways to get donors used to donating to a new kind of cause.
“They understand scholarships. They understand faculty support, these things which have been tried and true,” Seuferling said. “But deferred maintenance is something new they haven’t heard about before.”
And so, KU will move forward with what it can until a new source of funding is reached, Modig said.
“I’m not going to say that the buildings are crumbling around your ears,” he said. “But as for when a specific electrical unit is going to fail, we just don’t know.”