Financial team scrambles to find compromise

Jessica White

More than $200 million in campuswide renovations won’t happen unless Kent State and the Ohio Board of Regents compromise within the next few weeks, said Gregg Floyd, vice president of finance.

“We’re so close to being out of time it’s not funny,” Floyd said. “The project dies if we don’t get this worked out.”

Kent State officials set last Monday as the deadline for the Board of Regents to approve $210 million in bonds to help fund a $250 million campuswide renovation. The construction would be phased over five years and update more than 30 buildings.

University officials needed Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the board, to approve the proposal Monday so the bonds, which expire Jan. 1, have enough time to go through the Board of Regents controlling board, get on the market and picked up by investors.

Floyd said financial teams from both parties have been meeting frequently and hope to talk again this week.

Rob Evans, spokesman for the board, said Fingerhut’s biggest problem with the proposal is that the university would mandate new student fees to help pay off the bonds.

But university officials said if they can’t promise an immediate income to investors, it will be difficult to sell the bonds.

Floyd said he dislikes the idea of student fees, but there has to be a source of revenue so the university doesn’t go into debt.

“And the need for this construction is definitely there,” Floyd said.

He said many universities are facing similar delayed maintenance problems because of the boom of construction on college campuses in the 1960s and 1970s. Fifty-something years later, he said, those buildings are in need of repair.

Floyd said if the proposal can’t be worked out by Jan. 1, it won’t be worked out.

“I’m not saying that if this doesn’t happen, we’ll never do it,” he said. “I’m just saying that the proposal we had put in place will expire.”

He said the dialog with the board has been productive, and Kent State isn’t giving up.

“The university leadership remains committed to trying to find ways to address the campus’s needs,” he said.

Contact Jessica White at [email protected].