Funding for Union renovation dominates senate meeting

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Heavily discussed during Thursday’s Student Governing Association meeting was allocating surplus funds to help fully complete the upcoming renovation of the K-State Student Union.

The bond surplus fund, which is collected based on student enrollment rising, received an average of $382,000 each year and has not been utilized since 2010. The student bond privilege fee debt reduction and emergency allocation account currently has a balance of $2,103,951.95. Senators could allot almost $3 million between the two accounts to cover projects including a catering kitchen, Little Theatre renovations, Bluemont Room renovations and other projects.

“If we don’t have the catering kitchen, the whole system we’ve set up doesn’t work,” Reagan Kays, student body president and senior in agribusiness, said.

According to Kays and Bill Smriga, executive director to the Union, the project originally came in $7 million over the $25 million budget. While Turner Construction, the company in charge of the renovation, did everything they could to minimize costs, there was still an offset of $3 million to complete all the projects that students wanted.

“We want to give students everything they want, but what they want is $75 million and we’re just trying to keep it close,” Kays said. “We knew it would come in over-budget, but we never imagined it’d be this much over budget. We’ve exhausted all of our other options and feel this is the best way to give students the (K-State) Student Union they want and deserve.”

Part of the reasoning behind using these funds is to ensure that student dollars are being used to enrich student life rather than making up for state budget cuts.

Michael Richenberger, graduate student in nuclear engineering, said he felt that the company should be held responsible for coming in so far over their original budget and that the university should re-start the bidding process rather than try to locate an additional $3 million.

Smriga said that due to the changing landscape of the construction industry, it is estimated that every quarter the university waited to begin construction there would be a 1 percent increase in the cost of the project, furthering limiting the renovation.

Ultimately, the funds were approved through a hand vote.

Drew Unruh, chair of the privilege fee committee and senior in finance, addressed the continuance of funding for KSDB radio station. While the amount remained constant, the allocation was adapted to provide funds for a full time station manager and re-evaluate their reserve funds. Both bills were approved.

Pi Sigma Epsilon received $1,000 to travel to its national convention in Houston on April 15-19. Senators also allocated $1,000 to the Public Relations Student Society of America to travel to a conference in Nashville, Tennessee on March 18-22.

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