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Idaho universities slowly chipping away at backlogged maintenance

Idaho universities slowly chipping away at backlogged maintenance
Idaho universities slowly chipping away at backlogged maintenance

When Idaho state legislators came together for the latest lawmaking session, members pushing for more funds to be directed at deferred campus maintenance gave presentations that were meant to sway other lawmakers into action, the Spokesman-Review reports. 

According to the media outlet, state congress members were shown pictures of dilapidated housing at the state's universities that included rotting wood, cracks in walkways, boilers with visible rusting and corrosion and ceilings stained from water leaks . Such structural problems at schools across the state, including  University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University and Lewis-Clark State College, have resulted in about $700 million worth of deferred maintenance costs. 

To address this issue, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee announced it plans to allocate $12.5 million from the state's Permanent Building Fund to finance the necessary campus maintenance. The funds, which are generated through cigarette taxes, are typically reserved for paying off a maintenance project performed on the state Capitol, as well as for funding the school bond levy equalization program set for 2014. 

The JAFC approved the funding in mid March, which concluded the three-week budget-drafting session. 

"I think we've all known that there was a level of deferred maintenance," said committee co-Chairman Dean Cameron. "We just didn't know how bad it was."

According to the news source, the University of Idaho has been outspoken about its maintenance needs since last year, when committee members toured the campus and saw first hand what repairs were necessary. 

"Frankly, there are a lot of other choices that we probably should be considering, but given the constraints on the budget, given the constraints of other issues at play in this Legislature, we thought this was the best approach we could take," Cameron said. "We're grateful that we're able to take one small step forward."

According to a separate article in the Review, the appropriation specifies that BSU, ISU and UI will all receive $3.75 million, which lawmakers say should be enough to cover the costs of all maintenance. Lewis-Clark, however, will only receive $1.25 million for the work. 

To avoid maintenance backlogs, universities can use campus maintenance management software to keep track of all repairs made. 

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