Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Nittany Weasel Strikes Again

A couple of months ago the general student population and the rest of us learned that Old Main was scheming to impose a new facilities fee on University Park students. This fee was supposedly for the construction of new nonacademic facilities. Eventually elected student leaders let Old Main know that they weren't down with the fee and the group tasked with advising Graham on the fee tabled the discussion. That put the ball in Graham's court. Yesterday, he spiked it with a vengeance. It was brought before the Board of Trustees which approved it unanimously.

Why did Graham rush this fee into existence even though there are no plans on the table for the construction of such facilities? My guess is that the money will be used in the short run for maintenance on existing facilities. This will free up money from the General Funds budget for other purposes such as debt service. This shifting of monies will allow Graham to claim that the money isn't used for current debt service while in fact it has that effect.

To any reporters out there reading this here a few questions someone should ask Graham. First, since no construction is planned in the short term, how will the money generated from the fee be used during its first few years of existence? If he answers, as I suspect he will, that it will be put toward maintenance of existing facilities, then here's the follow up: Will the money supplement the current maintenance budget or replace it? My guess is that the answer will be that it will replace it. Follow up with, how will the monies freed from maintenance be redirected? Will any of it go to debt service?

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