- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The backlog of needed repairs in the University of Wisconsin System has grown to an estimated cost of $2 billion.

The system is asking for $713.3 million in the next two-year state budget, and also asking the state to give the Board of Regents authority to manage projects that are funded by program revenues, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/2exKZXj ) reported.

Regent Margaret Farrow said the changes would help the system save students and taxpayers money.

The capital budget request would cover more than 25 major projects; other maintenance, repair, and renovation projects; funding for reconfiguring instructional spaces to meet current needs; and planning funds for three projects.

“We want to ask for and undertake a reasonable amount of work each year,” said Alex Roe, the UW System’s associate vice president for capital planning and budget, said at a recent Board of Regents meeting. “Our feeling is if we can stay on a steady path with committed funding, we can plan for and renovate. Our first choice is how can we make what we have work better.”

The school’s Milwaukee campus is seeking $7 million of the total capital projects request to renovate its chemistry building, which was constructed in 1972 and still has the original building systems. Several of the system’s campuses have residence hall renovations on the table.

The proposal for the system to manage its own program revenue supported projects also will be considered during the state’s budget deliberations next year. Projects such as residence halls, recreational facilities and student unions that generate their own money don’t involve state funding.

The Legislature would authorize a bond ceiling under the proposal, and the State Building Commission would release the bonds in amounts requested by the university. The State Department of Administration would handle the sale of revenue bonds, while the university would manage the projects.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation already uses the process to secure bonding for roads.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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