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Headed for the cliff? University of Utah maintenance backlog tops $400 million

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  • Jimmytheliberal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2014 12:40 p.m.

    @LovelyDesert...Yet another well thought out articulate post prior to research. One might desire information regarding the revenue athletics bring to The University. Just an idea.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    May 20, 2014 8:12 a.m.

    Duckhunter,

    I do not make false statements. I take great pride in performing my own research and talking to bonafide sources for information before I post comments. I have made inquiries directly to very high ranking U officials regarding the U budget. This is what I was told:

    1) The $3.2 billion U of U budget definitely does not belong to the State of Utah.

    2) The Governor and Legislature understand this.

    3) The $253 million appropriation that the State does allocate to the U must be used solely for education purposes. It cannot and is not used to fund athletics or to build and maintain athletic facilities.

    I believe and trust the information that I have received.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    May 19, 2014 6:28 p.m.

    If student fees are subsidy, then BYU is also in the red, because they use student fees to fund athletic expenses as well. That's why students get into the events at a discount. The ESPN data I'm citing only includes money generated by the athletic departments, no subsidies. I guess some readers just don't care to check their facts.

  • Duckhunter Highland , UT
    May 19, 2014 4:45 p.m.

    @dutchman

    I incorrectly called pocy out when it is you that has been trying to falsely claim that the state does not own the university and its revenues. Interesting that articles keep appearing that show how wrong you are about that.

    @Mormon Ute

    Actually I am correct. The utah athletic department takes subsidies from both the students and the university itself which equal close to 10 million dollars per year. Thanks for showing us that even with those subsidies they are still in the red the last few years. The athletic department does not generate enough revenue on its own o pay its way, so the subsidies cover the shortfall. This is what I am refering to when I say they are "cooking the books" to make it appear as if they pay their own way. They do not, the defcit is simply covered by the subsidy although based on your numbers that extra 10 mil isn't even covering things any longer.

    You can find all of this online in articles in the dnews from a couple of years back. They do not allow links or I would provide them for you.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    May 19, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    Duckhunter,

    I have to correct your statement about the sports deficit. ESPN recently reported data on all colleges and universities nationwide regarding sports expenses and revenues from 2008 through 2013. That data revealed that for 2013 the U's sports program had a deficit of $2.6 million. Far smaller that your $10 million claim. In addition, the largest deficit during that 6 year period was $2.8 million in 2012 and in 2011 and 2009 they had a surplus with the remaining years (2010 and 2008) the deficit was smaller than $1 million. So for an entire 6 year period the U's athletic budget deficit has been less than the $10 million you claim is an annual deficit. The numbers I am citing are from public data gathered and reported by ESPN in a data base that is available for all to see.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    May 19, 2014 10:03 a.m.

    From the article: "During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers approved a separate appropriation to assist in the infrastructure upgrade and Higgins said the revenue-generating auxiliary departments at the university will also absorb some of the costs of construction."

    That separate appropriation was for the water and electricity upgrade. No where in the article did it suggest that the U was asking the legislature for $400 million to upgrade infrastructure needs. In fact as quoted above the revenue generating departments are absorbing some of the costs. The U has a $3.2 billion budget which comes mostly from revenue generating departments like the hospitals and clinics. The State of Utah appropriates $253 million annually for its educational mission which includes the $20 million a year for maintenace as mentioned. That covers about 40% of the cost for undergraduate education. Tuition covers the rest which makes it a 60-40 split. 35 years ago the split was 75% State and 25% tuition. So you can see state support has been declining drastically. I assume the U will cover most of this infrastructure cost through its revenue generating departments and will ask the State of Utah for very little assistance if any at all.

  • Rockwell Baltimore, MD
    May 19, 2014 7:28 a.m.

    "We’re not to this situation yet, but you can get to a position where all of your funding is just spent fixing things that are already broken," Higgins said. "It’s always more expensive to fix it after it breaks than it is to prevent it from being broken. That’s the cliff that we are all trying to avoid."

    You expect this kind of negligence in places like D.C., but I thought Utah was supposed to be more fiscally responsible than this.

    The U of U might want to take a sabbatical on building new facilities, like basketball training facilties, until they've figured out how to maintain the facilties they already have.

  • Ufan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2014 7:20 a.m.

    This is not a new problem at the U; when I was a student at the U many, many years ago, there was ivy growing through the windows of a couple of my classrooms.

    It seems irresponsible to be building new athletic facilities that will only be used by a select few students, when the university can't even afford to maintain the buildings that they already have.

  • Eddie Syracuse, UT
    May 19, 2014 6:06 a.m.

    Maybe the could charge extra for tickets to the sports programs! How much more does it cost to see a game in LA vs SLC? Just charge everyone the same price as the rest of the big-time PAC schools and use that money. With everyone that attends that should bring in an extra $10 to $15.00. With the renovation of the Football and Basketball venue's it would be interesting to see how much ticket prices go up and where that money goes. As a taxpayer in the state of Utah I want to know where my money is going. Building a bigger statium or arena to show off more empty seats is not a wise choice in spending the States hard working citizens.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    May 19, 2014 3:19 a.m.

    Since government education produce no tangible products to sell is why government has a tax and budget from of financing to provide limited services to the public. They have no right to profit for the services rendered when we pay taxes. Every government agency granted a budget the includes building maintenance and repairs but it always gets misappropriated in fraudulent use. A budget means that is their total financial limit and shutdown is an accountable criminal failure.

    It all proves that government is bad business and should never have been turned into business like operations. Its a flawed concept to think or imagine that govenrment can be run like a business, its impossible and failure is its only outcome with a national multi trillion dollar failure we have to reverse.

    The taxpayers are not only paying into the budgets, government has become a failure they have resorted to selling their prepaid services back to the public if they need the services of government agency. We are taxed to create, maintain, employe workers then taxed again to benefit from paying taxes.

    If cost exceed budget then some serious changes must take place in its leadership.

  • uteBusters Park City, UT
    May 18, 2014 9:29 p.m.

    Dutchman

    Care to explain how a school that is so financially independent is $400 million in the red in the deferred maintenance?

    Sounds like the U's priorities are seriously flawed.

    Instead of carelessly spending millions on shiny new football and basketball facilities, maybe "research" U should be spending the money on maintaining their crumbling science buildings.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2014 8:57 p.m.

    RE: rlsintx, Plano TX
    "I just retired and worked via internet most of the last 11 years - companies do this because facility costs eat your profit margin."
    There is a major corporation in your town that did just that - had employees work from home and ditched real estate. That company is now reversing course because they found that face to face collaboration has a benefit that online meetings cannot provide.

    I hope you're not suggesting that the future of universities is primarily online. IMO, that is not the best education. A great example of online failure is this article. Many commenters seem to think the issue is due to new construction and sports programs. Had they READ the article, they would understand the real cause.

  • ekute Layton, UT
    May 18, 2014 7:48 p.m.

    The outcry from happy valley is to drop college sports and support education. I wonder why? lol.

  • Atrix Vancouver, WA
    May 18, 2014 6:48 p.m.

    A maintenance back log of $400 million yet they spend millions on upgrading sports facilities? I think the University of Utah has their priorities mixed up. The Utes sports programs are garbage anyways...I say cut out the sports and put the money where it matters.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 18, 2014 6:37 p.m.

    They should have the students "volunteer" to clean the buildings. They can cut the janitorial staff and put that savings in to repairing the buildings.

  • ekute Layton, UT
    May 18, 2014 5:04 p.m.

    On the other hand, the U is growing by leaps and bounds! They are definitely a good fit in the PAC 12.

  • Duckhunter Highland , UT
    May 18, 2014 2:54 p.m.

    @schnee

    "The sports programs combined take in more money than they spend..."

    No they don't, which makes this even worse. The athletic programs at the university of utah run about a 10 million dollar DEFICIT every year although they cook the books and claim they don't by appropriating money from students and the school itself to cover the shortfall.

    So that is approximately 10 million more per year that should be used for the upkeep of educational facilities that instead is used to subsidize the money losing athletic program. The on top of that they are currently going on an athletic facility building binge to the tune of several hundred million dollars that will create even more facilities the university cannot afford to maintain. It is an absolute ripoff.

    Oh and pocyute, if the university of utah is not owned by the state then why is the state paying for all of this? yes I know you'll read this and yes I know you'll keep trying to pretend the university is somehow seperate and it's money doesn't belong to the state. This article pretty much buries all of your false points on this subject.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 18, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    I don't understand the relationship between university athletics and education. Perhaps the legislature could pass a law stating that the inter school athletic program at all state supported universities and colleges should be self-sustaining. Then the taxpayer wouldn't have to pay for these programs that don't have anything to do with education.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    May 18, 2014 2:19 p.m.

    With all of the construction going on at BYU I'm guessing they don't have these infrastructure problems to the tune of $400 million.

    I'm sure my 'fair' and voluntary tax contribution will be going up to support this U of U fiasco and other government boondoggles.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    May 18, 2014 12:44 p.m.

    Kings Court - just as a data point; adopting what I wrote wouldn't uninformed, ill thought trials or be leading a parade at this point in time - they'd call it catching up.

    My son-in-law is a full professor at a major university in Texas. His office hours are by video connection only. My son who lives on campus has classes each semester where online video link attendance is mandatory and attendance is taken - same with out of class work sessions with other students, all done via net with mandatory video.

    Adapt or fail, the world has been adapting these approaches for at least 10 years now.

    Regarding % of students who don't complete - flunk them out, there's a good chance their employers won't be providing them a cube of office either for good portion of their career. Xerox and many others actively try to shed office space wherever possible for profit reasons.

    I just retired and worked via internet most of the last 11 years - companies do this because facility costs eat your profit margin. Schools are little different, but it's the way of the world for many industries now.

  • pac12utah WJ, UT
    May 18, 2014 10:53 a.m.

    It does seem a shame that new football and basketball centers are built when general upkeep is neglected. Isn't education a bigger priority than sports? How many students at the school? 30,000? How many football players, 120? How many basketball players, 40 total (mens and womens)? I love college sports but come on....buildings are falling apart??

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2014 10:45 a.m.

    @LovelyDeseret
    The sports programs combined take in more money than they spend...

    @Eddie
    ...by about 5-10 million if I recall correctly so it's not enough to take care of all infrastructure needs by itself.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    May 18, 2014 9:37 a.m.

    Don't look now, but somebody has their hand out to the taxpayers AGAIN!
    The real meaning of HIGHER education is that it has priced itself out of the market. When government steps in, competition ceases. It costs more and more and they've killed off the very things that keep prices low.
    So, now we have grads with worthless degrees and a boatload of debt...and still it is not enough to feed the albatross.
    But this is government, not a free market. And we will continue to pay more with no end in sight.

  • Eddie Syracuse, UT
    May 18, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    Why don't they just get the money from all their mighty sports programs championships from the PAC 10+u? Or does this mean that they can't use all that money coming in to help repair what they already have. Sounds like it could be a little bit of counting their chickens before they hatch thinking that they would rule the conference of champions and get all the money they need.

  • LovelyDeseret Gilbert, AZ
    May 18, 2014 6:59 a.m.

    These are all great recommendations in the comment section. I would add that if they got rid of the athletic department they would save millions that could be put towards education. Priorities. Education over athletics.

  • Mark from Montana Davis County, UT
    May 18, 2014 6:26 a.m.

    Instead of getting money from Huntsman to build a new basketball center, get him to fund some maintenance. The U could even put his name on the side of a water tower, electrical box or on the pot holes he paid to be fixed.

    My guess is that Huntsman would actually donate money to fix things, but the U is more worried about a new basketball center than keeping things working properly. It is a university, a place of learning and training for the future, but instead too many 'leaders' are interested in sports than education.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    May 18, 2014 6:22 a.m.

    rlsintx, that would be fine if everyone would complete their online courses. Current data shows that 87% of online courses are not completed. That doesn't sound like a winning strategy to me.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    May 17, 2014 8:38 p.m.

    Do the obvious; reduce the need for physical infrastructure by using more on-line teaching and lecturing over the internet and shedding facility focused historical practices. Weed out outdated facilities and don't replace them. These would also reduce your road use, parking, shuttle bus, pollution etc.

  • shuttdlrl Smith River, CA
    May 17, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    The University should use the students to repair the campus. Pay them and give them job training.