Economy delays funding for ASC's Richardson Hall

(10-30-2008)

Higher interest rates stemming from the country's recent economic crisis mean Adams State College will not receive state funding this year to renovate its oldest building, Richardson Hall, according to Adams State Vice President for Finance and Administration, Bill Mansheim.

Richardson Hall was originally twelfth on a prioritized list of 17 higher education capital construction projects to be financed by leveraging federal mineral lease revenue. Only 13 were expected to be funded this year. Legislation passed in May earmarked approximately $16 million for annual bond financing of more than $200 million worth of construction on Colorado's campuses. The lease revenue is paid by energy companies that drill and extract oil and gas on federal lands in Colorado.

"The legislation specified that any project not funded this round will move to top of the list for next year," Mansheim said. "Richardson Hall will be the number one priority, should there be sufficient funds to issue another round of bonds. This will be determined by the end of the 2009 legislative session."

He explained that at the time the legislation was passed, bond rates were around 4%, but when the bonds actually sold this week, the rate was 5.4%. "The state would not partially fund projects, so ASC's $12 million project was passed over in favor of a $3 million project at Ft. Lewis College."

State Senator Gail Schwartz, who carried the legislation, said, "We made it clear that unfunded projects would be given top priority the next time bonds are issued. I support the campus moving ahead, given the stability of the funding source for higher education capital development projects as a result of SB08-218, which utilizes state oil and gas revenues."

Schwartz serves on the Capital Development Committee, as does Adams State alumna and state representative Buffie McFadyn, who also supported the funding and noted that Adams State is contributing $1.4 million toward the project.

"We are very optimistic about future funding for this essential renovation," said Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi. "Significant construction projects like this on our campus positively impact the San Luis Valley economy, in addition to improving the college's infrastructure."

Built in 1924, Richardson Hall requires $14 million worth of renovations to replacement plumbing, heating, ventilation, and electrical systems, and to make ADA enhancements to a community auditorium. Plans also call for creation of a backup computer operations area to support campus disaster recovery/business continuity efforts. The centerpiece of the campus, Richardson Hall houses administrative offices and academic programs.

"If there's good news in this scenario, the dropping interest rates will enable us to proceed with bond issuances to construct a new residence hall and make other renovations that will be supported by a student-approved fee," Mansheim said.

By Julie Waechter