The $54.6 million the University of Hawaii at Manoa is slated to spend on basic repair and maintenance work this year will hardly make a dent in the school’s notorious backlog, officials say.
Deferred construction and basic upkeep on UH’s flagship campus — ranging from building renovations to paint jobs — make up the bulk of the university’s more than $400 million backlog. But for now it looks like many of those needs will remain unmet, especially as long-overdue tasks continue to pile up.
That $54.6 million, according to Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, “will cut (the backlog) down some, but it will basically prevent it from going up.”
“We’re making a commitment to spend more money, but we don’t have a whole lot of money to deal with,” Apple told the Board of Regents on Wednesday, noting that the university has had to implement austerity measures across the board. In the past the Manoa campus has spent about $40 million a year on basic upkeep.
An unconventional plan to use $212 million in revenue bonds to eliminate the backlog, a proposal university administrators first pitched to lawmakers last December, failed to gain traction in the Legislature this year. Instead the university has to rely largely on tuition revenue and general allocations from the state. The 2014 Legislature earmarked $50 million in funding for deferred maintenance across all of UH’s 10 campuses, on top of the $37.5 million allocated last year and additional appropriations for specific projects.
Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple said the university will continue to push for the revenue bond plan next legislative session.