Folwell, nanotechnology plans stay on track

Regents also approved a two-year salary contract with University police.
February 14, 2010

Plans for two major projects on the University of Minnesota’s 2010 capital funding list will keep moving forward despite the uncertainty of their survival in Minnesota’s bonding bill.
“Until there’s a bonding bill passed and signed by the governor, the bonding bill isn’t over,” Kathleen O’Brien, vice president for University Services, said.
Requests for funding for further planning of renovations to Folwell Hall and construction of a new physics and nanotechnology building were reviewed by the University Board of Regents Facilities Committee on Thursday and will see action next month.
“We’re bringing forward these requests to ensure that these projects can progress as quickly as we can,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said both projects are on schedule; Folwell schematic designs are completed, and the board’s vote next month would provide the money needed to take the next step before state funding is secured.
The next step is settling construction documents. The University would like to see Folwell construction begin this summer and end in one year, O’Brien explained.
Meanwhile, predesign for the new physics building is complete, but the board must approve funding to start schematic planning.
The advanced funding requested from the board would amount to about $2.3 million for Folwell and $1.7 million for the physics building.
Interior renovations to Folwell, estimated to cost $34.5 million, did not appear on Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s $685 million bonding bill proposal. While it was included in the House and Senate versions of the bill, the governor has already threatened to veto what is not in line with his vision.
On the other hand, Pawlenty did support the University’s new $80 million physics building, but the most attention it got in the Legislature was $5 million in the Senate version that passed Tuesday.
The physics building, which will replace Tate Laboratory, is set to be included in the University’s 2011 capital budget.
O’Brien said the University is preparing to move forward with these two projects and will know more about state funding when the bonding bill is finalized.
The University relies on the state to fund two-thirds of each project’s price tag.
The funding provided by the Senate for the physics building would go toward planning and design, Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said last week.
Police union salaries set
Regents on the Faculty, Staff and Student Affairs Committee approved a two-year salary contract with Law Enforcement Labor Services Inc. — the law enforcement labor union — on Thursday.
For the 2010 calendar year, University police will face a salary freeze, with the exception of four new hires whose pay will increase with the usual 12-month progression. In 2011, all employees included in the union will receive a 1 percent pay increase.
Patti Dion, University director of employee relations, said the police salary structure is being adjusted to eliminate the “start step” that requires a raise after the first year.
Regents called the negotiations “admirable” under the current financial constraints.
The University system employs 57 police officers and sergeants, 41 of whom work on the Twin Cities campus.
Police union representatives were not available for comment.
Contracts for other University employee unions were settled last summer. Under the settled conditions, a wage freeze was established for the 2009-10 year. A 2 percent increase will follow in 2010-11.
Though the settlement appears to differ from the other union contracts, Dion said they adhere to the same financial parameters.
Law enforcement contract negotiations began in November. The union accepted the terms in January.

-Taryn Wobbema is a
senior staff reporter.

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