Foundations to pick up cost overruns at UND, NDSU presidents' homes
Private foundations will be paying almost all the costs of the presidents' homes at North Dakota State University and at UND. The State Board of Higher Education agreed Friday to send a request to the Legislature's budget section to accept the ad...
Private foundations will be paying almost all the costs of the presidents' homes at North Dakota State University and at UND.
The State Board of Higher Education agreed Friday to send a request to the Legislature's budget section to accept the additional funds.
Both universities had been criticized to differing extents by board members for spending more on the projects, including public funds, than was authorized. The board's budget committee later conceded that some of its policies on what funds needed authorization was somewhat unclear.
The presidents' homes were each supposed to cost just $1 million with donations from Bill and Jane Marcil, owners of Forum Communications, which owns the Herald. That's what the state board assumed would be the total cost.
UND ended up spending $1.3 million and NDSU $2 million.
Much of the extra expenses were for site preparation and landscaping, which the universities said they had always considered separate from the buildings. Individual projects costing less than $250,000 didn't need board authorization.
The board Friday approved new rules that specify that landscaping and site prep must be considered part of the total project.
NDSU also had extra expenses in the house itself, which the NDSU Development Foundation blamed on an expensive design and an over ambitious construction schedule.
According to board documents, the NDSU foundation would pay an additional $516,000 and the UND Foundation an additional $261,000, if the budget section approves.
Laura Block, the UND Foundation's chief financial officer, said the foundation board hasn't met yet to decide on the payment, though the foundation's position is it's obligated to make up the amount of public funds the state board said wasn't authorized.
The Fellows of UND, a group similar to the foundation, is expected to chip in, she said, but she didn't know with how much.
That would bring down the amount of public funds spent at NDSU to just $58,000 and UND $2,600. Those are the costs of moving the presidents into their new homes and, at NDSU, paying for temporary housing. They're not considered part of the cost of building the homes.
The board Friday also asked the state for an audit of the expenses at the presidents' homes and -- this goes beyond previous discussions -- any other project on the universities' properties that involved private funds in the last 24 months.
The board specifically mentioned NDSU's Barry Hall, the off-campus home of the business school that was dedicated earlier this month. Cost overruns there totaled $3 million.
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