Tweaking Tech:

March 20, 2008

by Richard Wolfe

State and university officials dug deep for requested one-time renovation funding.

Tech requested $5.5 million of the $75 million allocated by the state appropriations committee for delayed maintenance projects on University of Louisiana System campuses.

The money will be used to repair and replace air conditioning systems, electrical equipment, restrooms, steam lines and improve drainage.

Sam Wallace, director of facility and support services, said the items listed on request are in a state of disrepair or are obsolete and need to be replaced.

“You would probably, as a student, not even notice anything has changed, unless it stops working,” Wallace said.

He said Tech will need to continue using the equipment it has for a while.

“We may be looking at many months before we see any results from this,” Wallace said.

He said the wait for final funding approval is not extraordinary.
“This is just one step of a complex process,” Wallace said.

“It’s a process that needs to go through the system.”

He also said he was not certain how much money will actually make it to Tech.

“These numbers are going to change as we go through the process,” Wallace said.

“We don’t know exactly how much we’re going to get yet.”

A March 10 press release from the University of Louisiana System states the $75 million will go toward over $275 million worth of reported delayed maintenance projects at system universities.

It also states Tech requested funding for over $2.5 million to install new AC equipment and $1.2 million to fix drainage problems for the Visual Arts Center.

The remaining funding requests will go toward restroom renovations and re_placement of water and steam lines.

Joe Thomas, vice president for finance and administration, said much of the replaceable equipment has been in use longer than expected.

“The [AC] systems typically last from the 16-to-20 year range,” Thomas said.

“Some of these systems have not been replaced since the buildings were last remodeled, or in some cases, constructed.”

Thomas said he has worked for the university for about 30 years and he cannot remember a larger expenditure of state money for the same purpose.

“It’s the largest single allocation of money for major repairs in recent history,” Thomas said.

“I think this is the largest single pool that I can recall.”

Francine Bonner, a student worker for the Housing Office and a senior secondary education major, said she has not heard of many long-term breakdowns of AC equipment.

“In Pearce, the AC was broken down for not even a week, but they fixed it quickly,” Bonner said.
“As far as [the AC] breaking completely down, I haven’t heard of that.”

Bonner said Tech’s current AC systems take time to change between heating and cooling.

She also said living in the dorms is hard enough, but adding the frustration of dealing with a fickle AC unit is especially annoying because Louisiana’s weather is so difficult to anticipate.

“We’re in Louisiana,” Bonner said.
“You don’t know when it’s going to be cold or when it’s going to be hot.”