U considers

Melinda Rogers

Already facing delays and still without a general contractor for the Coffman Union renovation, University officials are now deciding whether or not they should continue to increase student service fees to fund the project.
With Coffman’s completion date currently up in the air, officials are considering the possibility of stalling an increase in student service fees that will pay for the project until more progress is made on the renovation.
“Now that the construction schedule is behind, they’re asking us to revisit the increment scale for student fees and we will,” Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer said.
The original plan was to raise student fees every fall starting with a $20 increase per semester in 1999, moving to $52 in 2000, $86 in 2001 and finally, $95.50 in 2002. The increase would then sit at an average of $91 until 2021, when the project would be paid off.
The fee increases will fund most of Coffman’s renovation, but with current delays in construction, many University students paying for the renovation will graduate before its completion.
Delaying fee increases would prevent graduating students from paying for something that they are unable to utilize, but it would also cause the University some financial strain.
“It would cause a $1.1 million revenue loss,” Pzfutzenreuter said. “Although we’re certainly considering (delaying the fee increase), we have to see what the construction schedule is going to be.”
Faced with the idea of a flat student fee, student reaction was favorable.
“I think there should be a flat fee because nothing is going on. (Coffman) is just sitting there,” said Robert Gindorff, a member of Students Against Fee Excess.
President of the Twin Cities Student Unions Lance Patrick said he thinks the original plan to increase student fees is a good idea, but it should not be implemented until the renovation project progresses.
“I think the Board of Governors is working hard and the original plan should be kept,” said Patrick. “But the fee should be raised as the Union is reopened. We’re working hard with the budget office to see how the fees could be revamped in the increment process.”
Pfutzenreuter said he hopes to sign a general contractor and reach a decision on the fate of student fee increases soon.
“I’ve met with governing boards of students about their concerns,” Pfutzenreuter said. “No promises, but we will take a good hard look at (the issue).”

Melinda Rogers welcomes comments at [email protected]