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Date Posted: Wed, April 06 2005, 11:46:12
Author: 91
Subject: Here's the Shorthorn story
In reply to: 91 's message, "Re: Fees on Top of Fees?" on Wed, April 06 2005, 11:25:52

91 editorial comment:
Fee wouldn't take effect until construction is complete. Am I gonna vote for a fee that students down the road will have to pay for and not me? Sure, why not? ;)

story from Shorthorn:

SC springs fee vote in 3 weeks
The referendum mirrors the football proposal’s rush to the student vote.

By Robert Kleeman
The Shorthorn Staff

The referendum to fund Activities Building renovations and the proposed special events center with student fees came just weeks before it will be voted on by students — resembling the narrow time window last spring for the football referendum.

Last Tuesday, Student Congress voted to put the referendum on the ballot, allowing students three weeks to decide in the April 18-19 Student Governance elections if they want to pay a $6-per-credit-hour fee to fund the additions. The decision to allow the student vote was a last-minute addition to the meeting’s regular agenda.

Similarly, SC passed a referendum last spring allowing a student vote on a $2-per-credit-hour fee to help pay for a sports expansion, including the reinstatement of football. Students were again given three weeks between the move by SC to place the referendum on the ballot and the student vote.

SC members and administrators say there was no way around the short notice.

“We had a lot of other issues on our plate, and it wasn’t really a viable issue to bring to the general body until now,” SC Vice President Richie Stuart said. “Unlike the way football was done last year, we didn’t blindside the administrators. We announced this at the

earliest possible time we knew this was a viable option for the university.”

Of the recently proposed $6-per-credit-hour student life initiative fee, $2 would fund annual operation costs for the event center and $4 would fund Activities Building renovations — the first of three stages plus annual operating costs.

If passed, neither fee would take effect until the events center and phase one renovations are completed.

“The $2 operating cost fee had been floating around for some time,” SC President Casey Townsend said. “We kind of knew that number from the original calculations. We had to wait for the architect to come back with a reasonable fee for the Activities Building.”

He said the $4 calculation came from the architect two hours before the meeting introducing the fee.

Stuart said the SC executive board wanted the university administration’s guidance before announcing the referendum to the SC general body; advice he believes was not sought last spring.

“I think we went about the process the right way,” he said.

Athletics Director Pete Carlon said he first became aware of a possible student life fee the week of Spaniolo’s much-anticipated sports expansion decision on Jan. 20. Spaniolo opted to table football in order to pursue building the special events center and renovating the Activities Building.

John Hall, campus operations vice president, said projected total costs for the two facilities had already been calculated in preliminary programming shortly after winter break.

Last week, after the referendum took center stage in Tuesday’s SC meeting, Hall said the university was projecting a $38 million total cost for the events center and $17 million for the phase one renovations — information that had never before been publicly released.

“You have to understand that this is all preliminary information,” he said. “We’re a long ways away from talking with contractors. We were just looking at who users might be for this facility, what amenities they might need, and as a result of that, we did a very preliminary construction budget.”

Hall added that the student life initiative was one of many priorities this semester.

“We try to look at the overall cost of attending UTA,” he said. “We’re very concerned about keeping costs at a minimum. With the recent tuition proposal and the Legislature, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to present this.”

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