Monday, February 07, 2005

Take paradise, put up a parking lot 

SCSU is running a budget surplus positive budget balance and after much input from faculty -- largely ignored -- the university has decided how to spend it. The students aren't happy with this either.
SCSU also proposed spending $5.7 million over the next three years on various parking improvements, including $79,000 on a parking soft and hardware system, $84,980 on new parking machines for the pay-lots, $610,000 on acquiring more property, $500,000 on buying Q-lot from the city and $3.9 million on the planning and construction of a new parking ramp.

The allocation of funds into areas like acquiring property and paying for renovations to Centennial Hall is causing some rifts between student government and SCSU administration.

Some members of student government believe these projects should be paid for by state bonds and not by operating funds.
True, they aren't operating funds but "recurring one-time monies", which is an oxymoron. Language matters: The funds really represent some past-budgeted items for overly-pessimistic projections for fuel costs and lawsuit settlements -- which represents the money budgeted here, along with the continuing benefit of having lower salary costs from the crappy contract the union signed onto last time and savings from reducing health benefits. Those are operating funds. Whether or not we can believe the university has divided up those two inflows correctly is a separate question, and for now we'll assume they got that right.

Nevertheless, the university is planning to spend more than 40% of its extra funds on a parking ramp, built at least 0.5 miles from my office building (which also contains a fair amount of the campus' classroom space) and calls it a "major issue for students" (quote from Pres. Saigo's letter explaining the budget to the campus) while the students think it shouldn't be paid for that way. Nobody in the faculty or staff will benefit from that ramp either.

If it is built, I suggest it be called "The Roy Saigo Parking Ramp" so that the president's great achievement in building a "positive budget balance" can be compared to, say, the Brendan McDonald Ice Arena. The comparison seems apt.