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UNM to split $100M bond issue over 2 years

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico Board of Regents voted Friday to split a planned bond issue in two, with the first $55 million in bonds to be sold in January and the second $45 million to be sold a year later.

The first bond will fund the first phase of expansion and renovation of Johnson Center ($35 million); the first phase of new buildings for the Anderson School of Management ($18 million); and partially fund renovation of Smith Plaza ($2 million).

The second bond issue will fund a new Physics/Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science facility ($35 million); and a child care program ($10 million).

Although debt service on the Johnson Center project will result in an increase in student fees, Jenna Hagengruber, president of the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico, and Texanna Martin, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, said a majority of UNM students support the project.

They noted, however, that because Johnson Center is shared by students, faculty and staff, students believe that faculty and staff should share in any fee increases.

Preliminary numbers show student fees would increase by $150 per year beginning July 1, 2016. If faculty and staff agree, their fees would increase by about $75 per year, said Andrew Cullen, associate vice president for planning, budget and analysis.

Cullen later said improvements at Johnson Center include a 98,000-square-foot expansion and extensive renovation of the aging building’s infrastructure.

The Anderson School is currently housed in four buildings. Its two main buildings were completed in 1968 and have single-pane windows and no insulation. Its two smaller buildings date from 1948 and 1987, Steven Yourstone, chair of the school’s marketing information and decision sciences, said earlier this month.

The plan calls for the new buildings to be constructed in phases, with the start of construction on the first 65,000-square-foot, four-story structure to begin in the fall of 2016. It will be erected in what is now a parking lot along Las Lomas Avenue, in front of the existing Anderson School buildings.

The second phase would replace the building on west side of the existing complex with a 45,000-square-foot building costing an estimated $23 million.

In other action, regents voted to “reaffirm” their earlier decision to rename University Arena as WisePies Arena also known as The Pit.

Regents president Jack Fortner said the vote was needed to address “a possible procedural irregularity under the Open Meetings Act” when regents approved the name change at their Nov. 14, 2014, meeting.

“To correct that irregularity, the open meetings law requires that a summary of the comments made at that (closed executive) meeting in which the claimed violation occurred be provided in a subsequent public meeting,” Fortner said before presenting that summary, which included the agreement for the pizza company to pay the university $500,000 per year for 10 years in exchange for renaming the facility.

Noting that they were not on the Board of Regents when the renaming was initially approved, regents Rob Doughty, Marron Lee and Ryan Berryman, the board’s student regent, abstained from the vote. Regents Brad Hosmer, Suzanne Quillen and Jamie Koch joined Fortner in voting to affirm the name change.

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