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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dorm construction to continue

    University representatives said construction of the new Sixth Street residence halls should begin within the next couple of months, after the dorm project is approved at the Feb. 24 meeting of the Joint Committee on Capital Review.

    The dorms, which will be funded solely with rent from residence halls, were discussed at the Arizona Board of Regents Capital Committee meeting, held Thursday via teleconference between Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff.

    “”Tuesday we (will) get the OK, which we have been told the committee will allow the housing to go,”” said Joel Valdez, UA senior vice president of business affairs. “”The housing doesn’t cost the state anything, but we couldn’t get it through their head to let it go.””

    The committee is also expected to authorize the UA to sell $68 million worth of bonds, which would be used to pay for building renewals and renovations, Valdez said.

    The university would not sell all the bonds at once, he said; they would market $35 million worth in fiscal year 2009, ending in June 30, and the other $33 million would be sold, if needed, in fiscal year 2010.

    “”We are more conservative here, we watch the pennies very hard,”” Valdez said. “”For the future we have permission to sell the whole $68 (million). I don’t have to go back and plead. It is all strategy and it is just financial planning, long term financial planning.””

    Federal funds from President Obama’s $787 billion Economic Stimulus Plan could provide enough funding so the university would not have to use the second half of the bond package, he said. If sold, the state is responsible to pay back 80 percent of the bond with the UA responsible for the remaining 20 percent.

    “”Federal funds come for different projects like (Information Technology), telecommunications, those kinds of things. But we have bonds proposed to be sold for those projects,”” Valdez said. “”Why sell them if we are going to get the money (from the federal government)?””

    UA President Robert Shelton said he was happy that the residence halls would be discussed and subsequently approved at next week’s meeting.

    “”My understanding is that the residence halls will be on that agenda and they will be reviewed and that will allow us to go forward,”” Shelton said. “”That is good news.””

    Valdez said once the dorms are approved it would not be long before construction would begin.

    “”If they just release it, we can have construction started there in about 60 days,”” Valdez said. “”We will sell bonds, hopefully in May, but in the mean time, knowing that we’re going to sell the bonds and authorizing to sell them we can use our own money, temporarily, to go ahead and issue the purchase orders.””

    The Regents also met later in the day to approve the distribution of the fiscal year 2009 mid-year budget cuts. There was no discussion on the matter, which passed without opposition.

    Regent Ernest Calderon said the budget matter had been under review for quite some time and this vote was nothing more than a legal formality.

    “”We have to take action on the specific dollar amounts that we are allowed to spend,”” Calderon said. “”We had previously taken action on a larger budget but there were cuts and we had to take action on a smaller budget.””

    Shelton said while the budget reduction had long been a reality, the news of the residence hall’s pending approval was cause for excitement.

    “”The budget decision was something that had been worked on in advance, it was pretty straightforward, painful but straightforward,”” Shelton said. “”Getting on to the JCCR budget, I want to make sure they’re there, I want to make sure they’re reviewed, but that’s a good sign.””

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