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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ABOR to talk stadium upgrade

rl / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Lute Olsons retirement ceremony, 7/8/09
rl / Arizona Daily Wildcat Lute Olson’s retirement ceremony, 7/8/09

The UA will seek approval for an overhaul of Arizona stadium and a costly mile of trolley track, and will discuss its current and future operating budget at the Arizona Board of Regents meeting in Flagstaff on Sept. 24 and 25.

The $82 million Arizona stadium construction project would enclose the north end of Arizona stadium, replacing existing benches with five thousand seats, and would also fund a new, modern scoreboard.

In addition, the UA is requesting approval for approximately $35 million for a 1.1 mile segment of a modern streetcar system that will run north of campus from Campbell Avenue to Park Avenue. The renovation plans are part of the university’s Capital Improvement Plan, one of many issues the board will discuss in its upcoming meeting.

The upcoming meeting will focus on finalizing the university system’s budget, approving Capital Improvement Plans for the three universities and maintaining the academic competiveness of the university system.

Due to the continued lack of a finalized state budget, there is uncertainty about the higher education budget. However, the board presented approximate numbers on the meeting agenda that reflect the most up-to-date figures.

The agenda puts the 2010 operating budget for the university system at $4.67 billion, an 11.7 percent increase compared to the fiscal year 2009 budget of $4.18 billion. The increase in funding is due primarily to enrollment growth at the three state universities. 

Despite the projected increase in operating funds over the last year, board of regents officials said additional resources are needed. The board’s associate director for public affairs, Andrea Smiley, said cuts in state funding are making it difficult to fund enrollment growth.

“”Federal stimulus money and tuition surcharge mitigate the cuts. However, they aren’t enough to counterbalance enrollment growth,”” said Smiley. By the year 2011, 55 percent of the university system’s budget will be used to fund enrollment growth.

Regent’s president Ernest Calderon said the university system will have to pursue outside funding to provide for an adequate operating budget.

Gov. Jan Brewer introduced the idea of a temporary sales tax; however, the state legislature has been unresponsive to the idea so far. Other possible sources of outside funding will be discussed at the meeting.

“”Our goal is to make sure the universities are adequately funded,”” said Calderon.

In addition to approving the 2010 budget, the board will discuss a preemptive budget for 2011. In this preemptive budget, the UA will present “”critical areas”” that are in need of funding in order for the university to remain competitive. The preemptive budget will be sent to the governor’s office on Oct. 1.

Following state budget discussions, the board of regents will address Capital Improvement Plans for the three state universities. The UA Capital Improvement Plans will amount to $124.9 million over the next three years and include the stadium renovation and modern streetcar projects, which the university hopes to start next fiscal year.

Joel Valdez, senior vice president of business affairs, said if the plans are approved then the UA could start design work for the future projects this year.

 

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