UAF deals with deferred maintenance

David Spindler/ Sun Star Reporter 

Feb. 11, 2014

The entire University of Alaska system has over 400 campus-related buildings with a current replacement value of more than $3.5 billion. UAF’s main campus in Fairbanks alone has a deferred maintenance of approximately $37,000.

Deferred maintenance are projects that, for shortage of funds, have the been put on hold until it becomes a much larger project. “We rank the projects based on age, square footage, and degree of risk,”said UAF’s Director of Public Affairs Kate Ripley. In the past four years, Gov. Parnell has created a five-year maintenance plan for deferred maintenance. The plan brought in funds going towards UA campuses in past four years so far.  

Scott Bell, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services, works on databases for all the deferred maintenance projects specifically for UAF. More than half of the university buildings are over 30 years old, according to Bell.

“The reason most of our DM projects are put on hold till they become a much larger project is because we don’t have enough sufficient funds from the legislature,” Bell said.  “I think our biggest priority as far as deferred maintenance goes is the replacement of the heat in the power plant. The university’s power plant was built 50 years ago with two coal fire boilers.”

Currently, there is a $250 million dollar project before the Legislature for the construction of two new coal fire boilers. Two new coal fire boilers would help reduce costs because the university power plant would then be able to generate all our heat and power using coal. “We would like to see the two new boilers be funded by 2018,” Bell said. 

Two ongoing projects on campus are the the Wood Center addition and the addition to Duckering, the campus’s engineering building. “I don’t think this effects DM because these buildings are new and they are not added onto our DM database nor funded,” Bell said.

The Wood Center’s new  dining area and cafe is a public-private partnership funded and constructed by a private company. The University will essentially pay off the bond over the next 30 years. The engineering building is funded primarily by the Alaska State Legislature with UAF issuing a revenue bond for $10 million of the $109 million project.

UA campuses have received $37.5 million in the past four years; the fifth and final year is currently under discussion in the Legislature. Parnell is unsure as to what will happen after his five year plan is over.

Even though the governor’s $37.5 million has been much appreciated, UAF still needs an additional $50 million annually if they hope to reach a sustainable level of DM by 2020. UAF has identified a sustainable level of deferred maintenance to be $360 million. Its an amount they can handle on an annual basis for annual maintenance and capital reinvestment. 

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