Editor's note: A previous version of this article mistakenly attributed the capital outlay procurement to the ASUNM Senate. However, ASUNM Governmental Affairs, an executive agency, procured the capital outlay. The article has been corrected.
The University of New Mexico project to install solar panels on the roof of the Student Union Building may have to change locations due to the roof of the SUB having more damage than previously thought.
The Associated Students of UNM Governmental Affairs began the process of requesting money from the state for the solar panels about two years ago. Associate Director of Government Relations Matthew Muñoz said his office helped ASUMN students work with the Legislature to begin this project.
“Solar Panels on the SUB is a student-led initiative,” Muñoz said, adding that. “(The Students) have to figure out what they want to do, if it will be funded by the bond, they have to work with legislators to get the funding and they have to work when they get the money.”
The money for the solar panels is laid out from Individual Capital Outlay funds from a set amount given to each state senator and representative for projects in their districts.
Muñoz said the Capital Outlay funds are normally supplied by severance tax bonds sold by the state. But bonds may not fund Capital Outlay this year due to a surplus of state General Fund money from oil and gas sales and gross receipts taxes.
The $250,000 for solar panels is part of a total $8.7 million laid out for various UNM projects using Individual Capital Outlay funds during the 2019 legislative session.
The Governor has line-item veto authority over capital outlay funds and vetoed around $750,000 set aside for UNM projects by the legislature. The installation of the solar panels will be a collaboration between ASUNM and UNM Facilities Management. Difficulties stemming from the condition of the roof of the SUB may make installation there more expensive and time-consuming, but the project is able to change locations.
“We leave this language vague sometimes,” Muñoz said. “If we put in there that (the money) is specifically for the SUB, it ties it to the SUB.” If money specifically designated for the SUB were not used it would revert back to the state, according to Muñoz.
As the project installation is currently in planning, other buildings will be looked at as alternate options for installation. Muñoz said of the location of the panels, “working with Lisa Marbury (Executive Director of UNM Institutional Support Services), we’ve left it up to the students where they wanted it.”
Current ASUNM president Adam Biederwolf requested to comment at a later date.
Colin Peña is a freelancer with the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com as well as on Twitter @penyacolin