Half a billion dollars needed to catch up with UH maintenance projects

Local News

Half a billion dollars — that’s how much it would cost to catch up with the backlog of maintenance projects on the campuses of the University of Hawaii system.

UH officials updated lawmakers during an informational briefing Tuesday about the university’s budget.

With paint peeling and stains on the ceiling, some buildings are starting to show their age on the UH-Manoa campus.

“I’ve noticed a lot of mildew stains or mold stains in the buildings,” said student Marissa Hedrick.

“A couple of the buildings just need to be updated, like internal and external work,” added Hava Bryan.

Kuykendall Hall is one of the buildings in need of improvements and a UH spokesperson told KHON2 the school needed $40 million to fix the building, but it did not receive the money.

We found out the deferred maintenance backlog for the entire UH system is $503 million and, on average, UH needs $77 million a year to prevent more deferred maintenance problems.

Both price tags have been increasing in recent years. UH officials told lawmakers one of the reasons is the school is not getting the money it needs.

“The average for each of the last three years, UH only received less than $70 million a year,” said UH Chief Financial Officer Kalbert Young.

“And you know, Kalbert, that’s the reality of the needs of the state,” replied Rep. Isaac Choy (D), House Committee on Higher Education Chair. “That’s the reality, and you guys got to work within that. We have other needs in this state, too.”

When asked what the university is doing to cut the maintenance backlog, an official said the school is looking to reduce square footage by trying to anticipate where the growth and demand will be.

“When you heard about the increasing amount for deferred maintenance, what were your thoughts?” KHON2 asked.

“That it’s poorly managed,” said Rep. Choy. “It’s obviously poorly managed, and since I’ve been harping on this for three years, maybe their approach is wrong.”

Also at Tuesday’s informational briefing, UH officials told lawmakers the supplemental budget it will be asking for fiscal year 2016-17 is $16 million, with a chunk of it going to the Cancer Research Center.

The UH athletics department also submitted its request to the legislature to the tune of $3 million.

Athletics director David Matlin said the funding is needed to help offset some of the costs, including spending $1 million more than other schools just on travel costs.

He said the department expects to have a $4.8 million deficit next year.

“As our problem gets better, we will have more revenues, and it’s also looking at some innovative new ideas, different ways, to do merchandising and licensing,” Matlin said.

He also said financial help from the legislature is part of a four-part plan to balance the budget by 2020. Part of that plan also includes looking at increasing student athletics fees.

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