Just as Storke Tower celebrated its 40th birthday, the campus icon essentially had its health insurance revoked.
In 2007, university administrators decided that future growth in income generated by two cellular telephone sites stationed atop the tower – which has historically paid for maintenance of the structure – will now funnel directly into the university’s coffers.
According to Elizabeth Robinson, the associate media director for Associated Students, the university notified the businesses housed in the Storke Media Communications Building under Storke Tower – which include KCSB 91.9 FM, La Cumbre and the Daily Nexus – that it would retain the balance of the $68,000 in yearly revenue previously received by the organizations and cap future profits.
Previously, the revenue generated from the cellular sites was channeled to Associated Students accounts and distributed to the Storke organizations based on the space occupied by each business. The funds were then used to finance routine maintenance and repairs conducted by Facilities Management. According to Robinson, however, after the 2007-08 fiscal year, all increases in revenue have been retained by the university.
In the absence of these profits, Robinson said a portion of the funding that students vote to give Storke organizations through lock-in fees will have to be diverted toward maintenance.
“It goes back to what all the students voted for,” Robinson said. “They voted to fund the radio station, not the Storke Communications Building. Money has to be spent on repairs that they did not pay for.”
Consequently, Robinson said the maintenance for the Storke Communications Building will now fall, in part, on student fees.
“I don’t think it’s fair to try and fix this crisis on [students’] backs,” she said.
A.S. On-Campus Representative Ashley Day said she is working with KCSB to sign a contract with the university to ensure that cell site revenue will continue to directly benefit the student organizations. Despite her efforts, Day said, the university is claiming ownership of the profits.
“The university has taken over the contracts,” Day, a third-year political science major said. “So now they’re saying because they control the contracts they should get the money. They’re only going to give a small amount of the money to the student groups that are occupying that space.”
Despite the current climate of campus budget cuts, Day said the university is compensating for poor financial foresight by shifting costs to students.
“I think that this is a sign of the times but also the attitude that the administration is taking that student fees for student services are the scapegoat for poor budget planning,” Day said.
Since funds from the last year of revenue have already dried up, Robinson said the organizations will be incapable of funding any future maintenance.
“We’ve spent all the money that we have for this year,” she said. “In order to fix them, the Nexus and La Cumbre go into deficit.”
According to Physical Facilities Assistant Director and Area Manager Robert Wright, the Storke Complex is just one of many major construction sites on campus without funding. These projects are put on a deferred maintenance list, Wright said, which currently totals to over $150 million in backlogged projects awaiting maintenance funding. Locating the money to move forward on these projects, he said, is quite a dilemma.
“Now every time a big ticket item comes up we have to find funding for it,” Wright said.