Doors of the University of Utah's new $23 million biology research building are expected to open this month even though the school may not be able to afford its maintenance costs.
Earlier this year, U. President Bernie Machen said he would consider not opening the 93,000-square-foot building until the $700,000 needed for maintenance could be found, prompting the Legislature to agree to pay $480,000 in annual operation costs.But Machen said on Tuesday that, even though the money to maintain the building still has not been found, the doors will open this month and be in full operation by Aug. 27 when fall classes start.
"We're going to open it, but it's fair to say we're still searching for the base funding to operate it," said Machen. "One option is to go back to the Legislature next year for the rest of it."
Legislative fiscal analyst Boyd Garriott said he expects a request next Legislative session for the remaining $200,000, which the Legislature could not afford last year.
The other option is to find the money somewhere in the university's $900 million budget.
Machen said it is critical that the state continue its past policy of funding the operation of donated education-related buildings. He said that without a commitment from the state, donors may be less likely to give.
Formal dedication of the biology building, constructed in part with a $5 million donation from drug and grocery store magnate Sam Skaggs and his wife, Aline, is scheduled for September.