MU buildings are being maintained at a lower rate than most buildings in the country because a budget crunch in the UM system caused administrators to defer of maintenance costs.
Budget Director Tim Rooney attributes the budget crunch to decreasing amounts of money from the state legislature.
More than $150 million in building maintenance has been deferred because of budget constraints.
Campus Facilities Operations Director Greg Watts said this amount grows by about $15 million each year. This money would be paying for aesthetic items such as painting.
Campus Facilities prioritized things such as fire and health safety standards when looking at building maintenance.
UM system administrators decided to reduce maintenance funding in order to fill other budget gaps.
"We were just exploring all options and we were sort of running out of places to find money to balance the budget and make sure that instruction and research did not suffer," Rooney said.
Watts said the national average for the amount of money that should be invested into facilities is about 2.5 percent of a building's assessed value. Rooney said MU invests only 1 percent of a building's value into maintenance and repair. In 2002, that number was at 1.5 percent.
"Just to get the funding back to 1.5 percent of assessed value would be terrific, but even that is inadequate compared to industry standards as far as what should be invested in maintenance and repair," Rooney said.
Watts said there are no structural concerns to any of the buildings on campus. However, he said Campus Facilities recommended total renovation to 37 campus buildings. In those buildings, he said, most of the ventilation, plumbing, electrical and all of the finishes are in a deferred maintenance state.
"Many of our facilities are historical, so we know we are not going to let them deteriorate to a point where we are going to tear them down," Watts said.
He said Campus Facilities recommends certain structures be totally renovated because it is better than making many minor, costly adjustments that will not bring an entire structure to scale.
"We could go into one of our worst buildings and replace the heating and cooling systems, but still have a 75-year-old building that does not meet today's student, faculty needs," Watts said.
Campus Facilities Associate Director Phil Shocklee said funding for ongoing construction projects such as the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Brady Commons expansion has come from private donations and student fees.
"There is very little state funding on any of the construction that is going on on campus," Shocklee said
But not all of the buildings' problems are directly attributable to age. Watts said Parker Hall's foundation is shifting. The problem is unrelated to age, but still needs fixing.
"Occasionally, you will have some ground movements," Watts said.
Campus Facilities budgets maintenance through two categories.
Routine maintenance, which includes the repairing of lighting, heating and cooling accounts, is 65 percent of the maintenance budget.
Capital renewal projects, which is currently the other 35 percent of the maintenance budget, handles bigger projects like the installation of air handling systems, roofs and windows.
Watts said Campus Facilities is trying to move as much money as possible from routine maintenance to capital renewal so some of MU's buildings can benefit from long-term improvements.
Despite the money deferral, there are some improvements around campus. Shocklee said over the summer the Arts and Science building had a total masonry repair, the elevator in Strickland Hall was replaced and part of Ellis Library continued to be re-roofed.
Shocklee said Campus Facilities implemented an intensive energy conservation program in 1990 that replaced virtually all interior and exterior lighting with high-efficiency lighting. He said MU is saving about $4 million annually through the program's cost avoidance.
Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said residence halls on campus are also structurally stable.
As an auxiliary service that financially operates without state or campus funding, Residential Life maintains its own buildings.
Minor said Residential Life does not defer building maintenance when it is undergoing tough financial times. Instead, the department closes down residence halls to decrease expenses.
"Rather than deferring maintenance, we tried to reduce our capacity to meet the demand, and control expenses that way," Minor said.
Residential Life takes into account physical characteristics and student opinions when deciding whether to improve a residence hall. Minor said Residential Life's total maintenance budget exceeds 1 percent of the total assessed value of all of the residence halls.
"Residential Life has a long history of reinvesting in our facilities," Minor said.
Overall, Rooney said he does not know when the UM system will address the lack of sufficient funding for maintenance and repair. However, he said, raising faculty salaries remains a top priority.
Budget Crunch Series