Senate passes Kyle Field referendum bill, 28-2
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:02
The Kyle Field Renovation Fee Referendum Bill, which passed with an overwhelming majority, spurred debate on the overall feasibility of using existing mandatory fee funds.
The referendum will ask if students prefer funding be taken solely through already existing fee money from the University Advancement Fee or through a combination of an increase in the UAF by $1.55 per semester credit hour — $23.25 for full time students — and an increase in sports passes by $139.20.
It was the opinion of the Speaker of Student Senate Scott Bowen that there are already funds generated from the UAF that could be used to cover the remaining $75 million cost to renovate the student section of Kyle Field.
“What [the referendum] is saying is that it is the opinion of the Senate that the money is already there,” Bowen said. “The entire point of the University Advancement Fee was to allow the University to dip into reserves to pay for things like this.”
Texas A&M CFO B.J. Crain gave a presentation to Senate before the vote. She said the use of the UAF to fund the Kyle Field project shows little feasibility once each college’s financial commitments for things like research equipment are taken into account.
“By the time we allocate all of those commitments out of our reserves, we are down to somewhere around $100 million dollars,” Crain Said. “That sounds like a lot of money; however, this is a $1.3 billion enterprise we are operating. Financial standards would say that we would have somewhere around 4.3 months worth of operation reserves.”
Crain said in addition to the reserves dwindling after commitments are considered, the University also has to take building repairs into account.
Speaker Bowen refuted this idea, stating that the money can be taken out of excess reserves, such as the reserves accumulated from the library fee within the UAF. He also said with the University’s current “25 by 25” plan to increase enrollment, the University can find $5 million per year without cutting departments until the increases enrollment drowns out the cost.
“The $75 million would not come out of [the nearly $100 million in reserves], only $5 million would this year, then every year after that for the next 30,” Bowen said. “My contention is that, after a few years, enrollment will grow to a point where that $5 million will just be a rounding error,” Bowen said.
Student senator and senior history major Zach Wooldridge, who proposed an amendment that would limit the UAF as an option of preference in the referendum, said he trusted the number crunching of University officials over those of senators.
“I assume that the people running the A&M finances are qualified people who made it to that point,” he said. “If they say that they don't think the money's going to come from this, that it can't come from this, then I don't think it's going to come from this. Let's be honest with the students and be realistic [about] actually getting UAF funds to pay for this."
Crain said using UAF funds would have to go through the University President R. Bowen Loftin and be approved by the A&M Board of Regents.
UAF information and allocations are posted at csb.tamu.edu.