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ENMU-R puts capital projects on priority list

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The old dormitories at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell are slated to be demolished this summer or fall. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Dormitory removal, electrical line and draft budget discussed with board

The replacement of the main electrical line through campus and the demolition of old student dormitories are two of the major capital projects that Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell plans to complete in the upcoming years.

The ENMU-R Community College Board voted Tuesday night to approve five projects on its five-year capital projects plan, with approval still needed from the ENMU Board of Regents and the state Higher Education Department.

“If you take those five projects … it is roughly about $8.7 million,” said Scott Smart, ENMU’s chief financial officer.

He explained that $3 million is expected to come from the 2018 general obligation bond issue, $1.2 million from state appropriations and $4.5 million for the university’s own capital reserves.

One of the newer projects to be discussed at board meetings is the replacement of the main electrical line that provides the primary source of electrical power to the campus, a project that has received a tentative $1.2 million in state appropriations from this year’s budget. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham could choose to amend that amount.

Originally ENMU-R had asked for $1.7 million, which would have paid for burying the electrical line underground, said Smart. Instead, the university plans to replace the existing pole-mounted line, which was originally installed by the Walker Air Force Base, with another pole-mounted line. Smart said that design should suffice, given how long the original line has lasted. ENMU-R President Shawn Powell previously has said that the project is expected to begin by this fall if all the approvals are received.

The university also plans to demolish some of its old 1950s-era student dormitories, at a cost of about $400,000. Powell has said that project likely will begin this summer or fall.

“There is very limited hazardous materials,” Smart said. “In fact, it is limited to lead paint. We had an environmental assessment done, so that is a great thing. The reason there is no asbestos in the buildings is that they are so old.”

Plans for the $3.7 million automotive-welding building, funded by the general obligation money, are progressing, but with a bid dispute needing to be resolved first, which was the topic of a closed executive session of the board.

The other two capital projects are related, the $3.4 million construction of a new Physical Plant facility and the demolition of the World War II-era Quonset huts that now house the Physical Plant staff and equipment.

Smart said that, even with spending $4.5 million of its own reserves, ENMU-R is in a strong financial position.

“We started out with a total capital reserve of $11 million, so we are using a little bit less than 50 percent of that capital reserve,” he said. “It leaves roughly $6.5 million, which is a healthy amount in that capital fund.”

Powell also told board members that a five-year master facilities and energy usage plan is being developed, with the goal of having that completed and ready for board review by August.

The board also heard a bit about the draft 2019-20 budget, which is expected to change quite a bit before its next presentation at the April 17 Community College Board meeting and subsequent approval by the Board of Regents, in large part because state funding information is not final yet.

So far, the university is estimating $21 million in total unrestricted revenues, a 13.7 percent increase from the $18.49 million in unrestricted revenues recorded for the 2018-19 academic year. Controller Karen Franklin said that the instruction and general fund balance is projected to increase by about $300,000, given the additional funding expected from state appropriations this year.

In other actions, the board elected Cla Avery to a newly created vice president position on the board, and members approved several fee changes for academic programs, including respiratory therapy, special services, aviation maintenance technology and emergency medical services. Administrators said that the fees are covered by financial aid.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.