UH upkeep to reach $1 billion


POSTED: Monday, May 04, 2009

An updated University of Hawaii study estimates repair and maintenance costs at the system's 10 campuses will likely top $1 billion through the next 10 years, raising questions about how the university and taxpayers will pay for it.

The backlog of repairs is now estimated at $368 million, and it is projected to grow to $1.1 billion as more fixes are needed in aging buildings and inflation pushes up the cost of construction.




By the numbers




        Estimated cost of maintaining Hamilton Library



        Estimated cost of repairs and maintenance at the Art Building



        Estimated cost of maintaining the Stan Sheriff Center for the next 10 years



        Estimated cost of repairing and maintaining College Hill, the UH president's residence, over 10 years



        Percentage of the campus needing repairs at Leeward Community College, highest in the UH system



        Percentage of the campus needing repairs at UH- Manoa



        Percentage of the campus needing repairs at Maui Community College

“;The state cannot afford it, not at this time,”; said House Education Chairman Rep. Jerry Chang.

The flagship UH-Manoa campus, which has the largest square footage and oldest facilities, is in the greatest need—with a $260 million backlog and an estimated total of $650 million in repair and maintenance projects in the next decade.

The study calculates that the university and the state need to spend $91 million a year to eliminate the backlog in 10 years or $111 million annually to catch up on repair and maintenance projects in six years.

The new state budget gives UH $116 million next year for repairs and health and safety projects but only $27 million in the following year.

Senate Higher Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda said lawmakers hope to be able to provide more next year.

Lawmakers also gave the university the authority to issue $100 million in bonds for repairs and new construction projects.

That money will be paid back with research funds, housing, parking, bookstore sales and other fees, and possibly tuition.

“;Our priority is to get (state) general obligation bond funds to pay for repair and maintenance, but we are considering several alternatives,”; said Brian Minaai, UH vice president for capital improvements.

UH-Manoa dorm residents are already paying for $56 million in major renovations through higher housing fees.

The new budget also calls for student technology fees to be used to help build a new information technology building.

Last year, when the repair and maintenance backlog was estimated at $351 million, the Legislature provided the university with about $60 million for those projects.

That money is starting to make a difference.

David Hafner, UH-Manoa assistant vice chancellor for campus services, said the university has 95 repair projects under way.

The work ranges from flood repairs at Hamilton Library to re-roofing 14 buildings.

“;The Legislature is doing its best with the money they have on hand,”; Hafner said. “;It's just a big, big problem.”;

The Art Building, constructed in the 1970s, is one getting a new roof.

But Gay Chan, chairwoman of the art department, noted the building still has its original air-conditioning system, which does not work in some rooms.

Fuses for the electrical system, also original, are not manufactured anymore, she said.

“;When the fuse goes, the gallery will literally go dark,”; she said.




The high cost of maintenance

        A repair and maintenance backlog in the University of Hawaii system totals $368 million:

$260 million: University of Hawaii at Manoa


$2 million: Hawaii Community College


$3 million: Windward Community College


$7 million: Kauai Community College


$8 million: Maui Community College


$17 million: Kapiolani Community College


$19 million: Honolulu Community College


$21 million: Leeward Community College


$30 million: University of Hawaii at Hilo