Home News Local News NMMI to seek bond funding for roofing projects

NMMI to seek bond funding for roofing projects

0
The New Mexico Military Institute will seek general obligation bond funding through the state Higher Education Department to reroof the Godfrey Athletic Center, as well as two other buildings on the New Mexico Military Institute campus. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

New Mexico Military Institute has applied for $3 million in general obligation bond funding through the New Mexico Higher Education Department for roofing projects, but those projects weren’t the Institute’s first choices and its leaders expressed some consternation about the situation.

NMMI Facilities Director Kent Taylor explained to regents on Friday that their original requests for funding submitted during the summer — to be part of what is expected to be about a $140 million higher education general obligation bond issue — were rejected on the grounds that the projects were ineligible “auxiliary” projects.

The rejected projects were an $8 million second phase of renovations of dormitory bathrooms (or barrack sink rooms) and a new $5 million softball complex, as well as related weight and locker room renovations.

The group gave NMMI authority to seek funding for other projects lower on its priority list and without prior approval of the regents.

Those projects are the re-roofing of Wilson Hall, Godfrey Athletic Center and the Toles Learning Center.

Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.

“It is a viable project, something we need to address,” Taylor said, explaining that the roofs are near the end of their lifespans. “But I think we all decided a while back that the latrines for these cadets were definitely our No. 1 priority to be focusing on right now.”

Part of the funding for phase one, which involves the design of the new bathrooms and the renovation of as many units as possible, was funded through GO bonds in 2018.

The director of capital projects with the Higher Educational Department said that the department is required by the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC) to determine “the greatest needs of the state and of the institutions.”

“The two projects submitted by NMMI were reviewed using the criteria within the NMAC and deemed ineligible for state funding through the NMHED process,” said Gerald Hoehne.

He noted, however, that the department has supported HED general obligation funding for NMMI in the past, including in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Hoehne and NMMI officials also pointed out that NMMI can make a direct ask of the state Legislature, without going through the HED, for funding for the softball complex and bathroom renovations.

Grizzle said that Institute officials are working with lobbyists and area state legislators concerning those projects.

“They are intimately involved and know where we stand on this,” said Grizzle.

According to the NMAC code, ineligible projects include “student housing” and “intercollegiate sports.”

But another section of the code also notes that exceptions for certain projects can be made for two-year colleges, as long as they provide a 25% match.

“Within the NMAC, there are two provisions that I kept trying to redirect them to, and (they just ignored it),” Grizzle explained. “They would not address the wording of the NMAC.”

He did acknowledge that originally NMMI had asked for a waiver of the 25% match because NMMI has contributed 52% of the funding for HED-approved projects during the past 10 years.

“I even offered to put the 25% in — ‘If you’ll approve this auxiliary project, I won’t ask for the 25% waiver,’” he said.

Some trustees expressed their frustration with the process as well, with Brad Christmas indicating that NMMI is not like other schools that can easily distinguish between auxiliary functions and those integral to instructional functions.

“We are essentially an umbrella organization,” said Brad Christmas. “Everything is relative to each other.”

Col. Tim Paul, chair of the Board of Trustees, said he became more comfortable with the HED decision about the roofing projects after some thought, even though the request required a bending of HED and NMMI regulations by submitting the roofing project after the usual deadline.

“I think we are doing this fair, equitably and in public, so I think there is no cause for concern, beyond the fact that we are following a different process for this project or set of projects,” he said.

The regents did vote to approve the funding request through the HED GO bonds process. If authorized by the state legislature in 2020, the bonds would need statewide voter approval during November 2020 elections.

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