Robert B. Bradley, vice president for Planning and Programs at Florida State University, has been appointed to serve on the Florida Board of Governors’ newly formed 12-member Task Force on Facilities Funding, which will address a critical lack of infrastructure and facilities funding within the State University System.
The task force, which is scheduled to have its first meeting April 30-May 1 in Orlando, Fla., has a Nov. 7 deadline to report findings and recommendations that can be pursued, if needed, in the 2013 Florida legislative session. In addition to the task force, a separate advisory panel of financial-related experts will be named in the near future to support particular aspects of the task force’s charge.
The State University System currently relies on state Public Education Capital Outlay dollars — or “PECO” — as the primary source of both university construction and building maintenance. The current state economy and recent legislative budgets make significant state investment in capital planning limited, at best, for the future of the 11 institutions.
The system needs between $200 million and $400 million alone each year to maintain and modernize the existing state investment in university buildings and utility infrastructure, according to national norms that evaluate factors such as square footage and age of assets. For FY 2012-2013, total appropriations for this purpose were less than $9 million to be shared across the System.
Overall, PECO funding in the State University System is now at a historic low. (For a fact sheet on the historical aspects of PECO, see www.flbog.edu/pressroom and click on “Current Info Briefs.”) PECO resources are scarce and must be shared amid the list of educational entities listed in the fact sheet.
A bill that would have altered the way PECO projects are funded — providing some flexibility to universities and other PECO-reliant entities — failed to pass in the final days of the 2012 legislative session. The Senate also conducted important research on potential PECO alternatives in 2011, but its final report was not released in the most recent session.
By law, PECO funds cannot be used to construct student-life facilities, such as student unions, recreational fields and fitness centers. In this area alone, we know from a previous study — conducted by the board that the Legislature mandated — that there is more than $650 million of unmet and identified needs for student life facilities alone. Again, however, PECO funds cannot be utilized in this instance — and the $650 million needed cannot be bonded.
At the March meeting of the Board of Governors, Facilities Committee Chair Dick Beard of Tampa, Fla., called the issue a “crisis.”
“The task force will enable us to better address the crisis that we have in infrastructure funding amid State University System institutions,” he noted.
State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan said the board’s action is important and comes at the perfect time.
“We will continue the drumbeat on this issue, because it is a three-part challenge that is coming to a head: future construction projects face real uncertainty, universities cannot keep up with the maintenance and renovations of existing taxpayer investment, and the state is issuing fewer bondable projects for the 11 institutions due to continued declining revenues,” Brogan said.
University of West Florida President Judy Bense is serving as chair of the task force. She has worked at UWF in Pensacola, Fla., for 30 years and has been serving as the institution’s fifth president since 2008. She has focused on visibility and partnerships in her tenure to date, and has expended extensive energy on regional work-force needs and strategically planned growth with the economic development and business community in Northwest Florida.
The other appointees are:
- Anthony Barbar, vice chair, Board of Trustees, Florida Atlantic University;
- Linda Bacheler, assistant vice president and controller, Florida Gulf Coast University;
- Scott Cole, vice president and general counsel, University of Central Florida;
- Thomas Donaudy, vice president of Facilities and university architect, Florida Atlantic University;
- Matt Fajack, vice president and chief financial officer, University of Florida;
- John Long, senior vice president and chief operating officer, University of South Florida;
- Michael Long, student at New College of Florida and currently the student member on the Florida Board of Governors;
- Janet Owen, vice president for Governmental Affairs, University of North Florida;
- Larry Robinson, provost, Florida A&M University; and
- Mark B. Rosenberg, president, Florida International University.
The charge to the task force is to produce final recommendations to the board by or before Nov. 7 that will, at a minimum:
- Identify specific university projects that can be constructed, subject to potential waivers of existing policy and regulations.
- Identify specific university maintenance initiatives that can be addressed, subject to potential waivers of existing policy and regulations.
- Determine how limited funding for new or remodeled space will affect the System’s ability to meet the goals and outcomes in the Board of Governors’ 2025 Strategic Plan — see the document at www.flbog.edu/pressroom and the specific metrics and goals in the charts on pages 20-22.
- Determine a methodology to mitigate the future impacts of university growth on local governments and host communities.
- Review other states’ facility funding methodologies and determine what alternatives may be applicable to Florida.
- Review all sources of current and potential university facility funding to determine if any additional sources should be made available.
- Determine if there are public-private partnership alternatives not currently utilized that can be fostered to provide needed facilities.
The appointees for the advisory panel of financial and capital infrastructure experts will be named soon. The task force, as an appointed body of the board, will operate in accordance with Florida’s Sunshine laws — meeting dates and agenda materials will be posted to the website, as part of the existing Board of Governors noticing process, and a toll-free audio listening line will be available. Further details and materials for the first meeting will be posted on the BOG website as items are finalized in the coming weeks.
For more information about Bradley’s appointment, contact him at (850) 644-0797 or firstname.lastname@example.org.