Finance and Administration Committee to hold energy auction, recommend budget increases for capital projects

Grace Springer, Reporter

The Board of Trustees’ Finance and Administration Committee met virtually Tuesday to discuss budget increases for capital projects, renewing electricity contracts and reports from the Investment Committee.

The committee will recommend budget increases for two capital projects at their Dec. 7 meeting. These are the latest on a list of projects that have needed budget increases this year due to inflation.

The first recommendation the committee discussed was increasing the budget of renovations at Rockwell Hall by an additional $180,000 from an already increased budget of $8.08 million according to Mark Polatajko, senior vice president of finance and administration.

The budget increase will go towards unanticipated HVAC repairs and replacements as well as replacement of the terrazzo floor which was planned to be refinished but was unsalvageable when inspected.

This increase will need to be brought to the full board because the project already went over the contingency budget. The Rockwell Hall renovation is on schedule to finish this winter.

The committee will also recommend an increase to the budget of the Aeronautics and Engineering Building construction.

“This amendment is driven by two specific items,” Polatajko said. “Number one as I mentioned the timing of bidding, the guaranteed maximum price for the project was in spring of 2022 and the beginning of this extraordinary construction inflation that we are experiencing… And then secondly, a pretty significant and unforeseen ground condition that required nearly $500,000 to correct water, sewer infrastructure.”

Altogether, the committee will recommend a $1 million increase to the budget for the addition to the Aeronautics and Engineering Building. This funding will come from residual funding from previously closed out capital projects. The project is planned to be completed summer 2023.

The committee is also planning for the spring when the university will need to review electricity pricing and contracts.

“We utilize a strategic approach to securing the best possible price for electricity and that is by way of a reverse auction,” Polatajko said.

The reverse auction is a “competitive pricing event” where the university goes to the market and electric companies bid on prices. It is planned for March 2023. The results of the reverse auction will be compared to the standard service offer to ensure the university gets the best deal possible on electricity.

“Obviously this is a very good thing to do because of the savings it can generate for the university,” said Trustee Stephen Perry, chairman of the committee.

Trustee Donald Mason, chairman of the Investment Committee, gave a report from their meeting on Nov. 18. The committee met with professors, undergraduate students and graduate students from the Golden Flash Asset Management Team, a student organization which has an active role in investing over $1 million for the university and Kent State University Foundation.

Mason expressed his enthusiasm to meet with the students from the organization.

“Before I say this concludes my report, I want you to know it was great meeting with the GFAM and the students were wonderful and I appreciate that mentorship the professors gave them,” Mason said.

The committee’s recommendations will be heard and voted on by the full Board of Trustees at their business meeting on Dec. 7 at the Kent Student Center Alumni Suite.

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