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Institutional bonds

UNM Regents approve selling $100M in institutional bonds for renovations

On Friday the UNM Board of Regents voted in favor of selling $100 million in institutional bonds beginning next year, which is the first step in funding several improvement projects on campus, including Johnson Center renovations.

The bonds will be split in two portions: $55 million, which will be used to fund renovations to Johnson, Anderson School of Management and Smith Plaza, will be sold in January; the other $45 million, which will be allocated toward a new Physics and Astronomy Interdisciplinary Science building and expansions to the children’s care center, will be sold a year later.

Bonds are essentially larger-scale mortgages sold to investors, according to bonds.unm.edu, which states that bonds allow UNM “to make investments in large capital projects ... (which) can serve as matching funds to other sources to fully fund large building projects.”

UNM President Bob Frank gave a short presentation, aided by Associated Students of UNM President Jenna Hagengruber and Graduate and Professional Student Association President Texanna Martin, before the regents gave their stamp of approval.

“This bond will be critical to making the University a more attractive place to students,” Frank said.

Hagengruber outlined three conditions that she said she and Martin agreed upon for facility renovation to have support from the two governing bodies. One condition is that no funding for the planned renovations to UNM’s children’s campus comes via student fees.

“We do recognize that it is a priority. However, based on the number of both undergraduate and graduate students that are utilizing this facility currently, we don’t think it’s a large enough proportion of students here at the University to take this on (with student fees),” Hagengruber said.

The other two conditions are that funding for Johnson is split between students, faculty and staff, as all three UNM populations utilize the facility, and also that there is only a one-time student fee increase to fund the projects.

Martin said that they received overwhelming support from students during forums held on Sept. 2 and 3 in the SUB, where students were able to see displays breaking down each project and where the money would come from.

She said out of 337 students, 93 percent, or 314, had positive feedback, while only 4 students, amounting to about one percent, didn’t approve of the plans.

Not all current University students will be able to experience the updated facilities once it’s all said and done, however. Smith Plaza, along with the Physics and Astronomy and Johnson facilities, aren’t expected to be done until early-to-mid 2019, with Anderson’s renovations expected to be completed in early 2018.

Current funding strategies call for Johnson Center and the child care facility to be funded 100 percent from the bonds. Planned sources of revenue for the other projects include government bonds, which have to be approved by voters, and private funding streams.

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David Lynch is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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