Finance and Administration Committee to propose finance changes addressing inflation

Construction+site+of+the+Ambassador+Crawford+College+of+Business+and+Entrepreneurship+building.+The+Board+of+Trustees+will+need+to+budget+more+money+to+keep+the+project+on+schedule.

Grace Springer

Construction site of the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship building. The Board of Trustees will need to budget more money to keep the project on schedule.

Grace Springer, Reporter

The Kent State Board of Trustees Finance and Administration Committee will recommend a budget increase for construction projects due to inflation, as the Board of Trustees votes on a pay increase for some staff at the next board meeting.

The Finance and Administration Committee discussed these issues in addition to routine personnel actions, management decision items and capital projects at Tuesday’s meeting.

Trustee Donald Mason said the trustees must “make lemonade out of lemons” to address inflation and keep university projects up and running.

The Board of Trustees will need to budget more money for multiple construction projects in order to keep them on schedule, including Crawford Hall, the new College of Business and Entrepreneurship building set to open fall 2024.

According to Mark Polatajko, senior vice president of finance and administration, the committee should recommend a $9.5 million increase in the project budget which was initially approved by the board at $74 million.

“No surprises here, and we discussed this in August, but this is driven by inflation,” Polatajko said. “Specifically, number one, labor shortages and rate increases and, number two, the cost of materials due to supply chain and availability.”

The committee will also recommend routine pay increases for unrepresented classified civil service staff, unclassified administrative and professional exempt staff and unclassified nonexempt staff. The proposed action would increase pay by 2 percent for these groups effective Oct. 1.

“On an annual basis our HR team does a great job reviewing all of our pay structures … to make sure that we are competitive within the marketplace,” Polatajko said. “This is an important process that the HR team undertakes to ensure that we are retaining and recruiting our top talent.”

The committee will also recommend project budget increases and approvals for the following capital projects: The White Hall front campus chilled water plant construction, the College of Architecture design studio space in Beall Hall, the maintenance project in Cunningham Hall, the roof and ceiling replacement at Stark Campus fine arts and libraries, the Kent Campus improvement project, the IT and network project and the replacement of the field house track.

The Board of Trustees will hear and vote on the committee’s recommendations at the Sept. 21 meeting in Room 145 of the FedEx Aeronautics Academic Center at the Kent State University Airport.

Grace Springer is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]