BOG announces members of facilities task force
With funding for new buildings and infrastructure across the state university system shriveling to the point of a "crisis," the Florida Board of Governors has chosen a dozen members of a new facilities task force charged with searching for potential solutions.
The members represent each of the state's 11 universities, with University of West Florida President Judy Bense chairing the group. They have until Nov. 7 to come up with recommendations in advance of the 2013 Legislative session. Another separate advisory panel of financial experts, soon to be named, will help out.
The problem? The fund that pays for new construction on college campuses, called Public Education Capital Outlay, or PECO, is drying up. That's because the money comes from a tax on utilities on things like land-line phones and electricity. These days, more and more people rely on cell phones while conserving energy in their homes.
Last year those funds were reduced from an estimated $100 million before the legislative session to zero.
Based on a national formula, the university system needs between $200 million and $400 million in each year just to maintain and modernize its existing buildings, according to a BOG news release.
“It is a three-part challenge that is coming to a head," said State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan. "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."
The group will hold its first meeting April 30 and May 1 in Orlando, where they will begin to review existing projects, look into other states' funding methods, look for new funding sources, and explore possible public-private partnerships.
The other task force members are:
· Anthony Barbar, Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, Florida Atlantic University
· Linda Bacheler, Assistant Vice President and Controller, Florida Gulf Coast University
· Robert Bradley, Ph.D., Vice President for Planning and Programs, Florida State 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, Ph.D., Provost, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University
· Mark B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., President, Florida International University