Sunday, June 26, 2022

UNCW raises student fees for health center, reorganizes another fee for recreation improvement debt

UNCW’s 9.75 million construction project will be funded in part from $52 Field Debt fee, reallotted from Recreation Debt Fee. (Port City Daily/Courtesy UNCW)

WILMINGTON—The UNCW Board of Trustees approved restructuring a certain student fee, designed to offset the university’s debt on recreation projects.

The price for the debt recreation fee was not increased, just redirected in part, though the university approved an increase to the Student Health Center fee, to fund increased personnel costs.

The Student Health Center fee will increase by $27 about per student.

The $201 recreation debt fee, contributed by every UNCW student, generates around $2.5 million that goes toward the funding of various capital construction projects. UNCW took $52 from that fee allotment, and reallocated it toward the field debt fee idea, specifically, with the goal of easing costs on a $9.75 million construction project, slated to be completed fall 2022. 

According to a UNCW presentation, the field projects include multiple improvements to the university’s recreational facilities, like a turf field, and basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. Annually, the fee reallocation would inject $644,800 into revenue for field debt, according to the university.

The presentation revealed the funds for the construction spree were “raised from a bond issuance.” 

The university sought and obtained “aesthetic and siting approval” for the first phase of the recreation field project in October. 

Across the board, education leaders at the UNC System, overseeing all 16 state universities in the state, have urged universities to roll back spending on capital projects, unless funding has already been procured, through avenues like state appropriations or donations. 

Peter Hans, the UNC System president, wrote in an August memo that capital construction projects at universities should be “scrutinized.”

Randall Library has been a point of interest for state funding; the N.C. General Assembly previously committed $5.5 million in allocated funds, for renovating the university library.

UNCW’s 2019 financial audit states that net revenue for student tuition and fees in that year was slightly over $115 million. 

UNC System policy caps the growth of student fees at a rate of 3% annually. When the system’s board of governors met in September to discuss potential fee increases and changes to costs of attend N.C. universities, UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli told the group, “As soon as you go online, you’re not collecting a lot of fees,” according to The Daily Tar Heel. 

“This is going to cost us, at this very moment, this year, a lot of money,” he said at the time. 

For the Student Health Center fee, UNCW leaders opted to raise it by around $27, in order to support salary and benefit increases from recent years among the medical staff. Further, the fee will work to cover more anticipated benefits, as well as increases in supply costs. 

The new revenue from the increase will yield the university roughly $336,000. Despite the increase, the new cost of the Student Health Center fee is still the second most inexpensive fee of its type across the UNC System, behind only UNC Pembroke. 

Trustees also chimed in on another high-profile issue at their Tuesday meeting.

The university trustees — made up of local politicians, lawyers, business people and others — countered the UNCW Faculty Senate by offering a full-fledged declaration of support for Sartarelli. The faculty senate, after multiple months of deliberating a proper route of indicating displeasure with certain aspects of Sartarelli’s leadership, opted for a motion of censure at a Tuesday meeting. 

RELATED: Rift between professors and chancellor at UNCW is formalized with censure motion

The motion of support said UNCW, under Sartarelli’s leadership, “has responded to the many challenges of 2020 with hard work, intelligence, and a Seahawk ‘can do’ mentality.”

This story was updated to reflect that the fields and facilities affected by the student fee reshuffle are those of recreational use

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