Topeka — A growing problem at public universities in Kansas, seems to have started to improve, officials say.
The problem has been how to pay for deferred maintenance — the long list of needed repairs and replacements to the hundreds of buildings and infrastructure on college campuses.
The 1960s and 1980s saw huge growth in higher education. Nearly 40 percent of regents’ university buildings were built during those periods, and now those buildings are requiring major repairs.
In 2007, the Kansas Legislature put together a funding package to try to deal with the problem. But even then many said the measure was too little too late.
They appeared right. From 2008 to 2011, the estimate of the deferred maintenance backlog grew to $904 million from $825 million.
This year, however, the deferred maintenance backlog is coming in at about $800 million, said Eric King, director of facilities for the Kansas Board of Regents.
"We have seen a significant decrease in our backlog," said King. "What I think it is we are seeing is the money pumped into this has really made a difference."
He also said the struggling economy produced low bids on projects over the past several years as contractors scrambled for work. And another factor was the state's use of approximately $46 million in federal stimulus funds for deferred maintenance.
In addition, since 2007, the regents have required that new construction on campuses include funding to cover the cost of expected maintenance over the life of the building.
"It's a really positive story," said Regents Vice Chairman Fred Logan of Leawood.