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Trustees delay vote on fee increase

The Board of Trustees has approved higher parking fines but postponed a vote on a proposal to increase student fees by 3 percent.

At the board meeting November 14, Mark Emmert, chancellor, said the fee proposal is part of the final year of a four-year budget balancing plan. During that time, the University has cut $11.5 million in expenditures.

The board postponed the vote on fees to schedule a special meeting December 12 to discuss the issue of fees and services.

During the public session, Caroline Miner, president of the Graduate Student Senate, presented a request that the room rate for the South Campus dorms be set 10-20 percent higher than rates for existing dorms, and that fees for other residence halls and for Health Services be maintained at the current rate.

Student trustee Brian Collins called on the University to seek other sources for the additional funding needed to balance the budget. "I do agree with the need for fee increases," he said, "but students are the first, last and middle resource every time this University has to raise extra funds ... We have to look other places for this money."

Carmen Vance, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, said that without the fee increase, the University would have to reduce items and services "that are not absolutely necessary for living," such as computer centers, cable television, and paper towels and soap in bathrooms in the residence halls. She said a 3 percent increase would maintain current services.

She added that the University does receive income from non-student sources, such as summer conferences.

Trustee William Berkley said the fee increases reflect the expenses of the University's development into a world-class institution. "The real beneficiaries are the people who come after Brian (Collins)," he said.

Emmert said if the fee proposal is not approved, the budget will have a $2.1 million shortfall, or the equivalent of 20 professors.

Wilbur Jones, vice president for business affairs and finance, added that there will be a further bond issue as part of the UConn 2000 program in January. A decision not to approve the fee increase could affect the University's bond rating, he said.

The trustees approved increases in parking fines, increases requested by the board at its October meeting. The maximum fines has been raised from $25 to $50. The schedule of fines includes new fines for parking in a student or staff lot without being assigned there ($15 and $25 respectively).

Emmert said the parking fines are a "very important part of an overall strategy to improve the nature of the campus generally and to provide orderly and available parking in the right places at the right time."

In other business, the board approved a proposal to allow a group of OB/GYN physicians to rent space on the Health Center campus. Les Cutler, chancellor for health affairs, said this would double the number of births that now take place at the hospital and enable the Health Center to make a profit.

Jennifer Smith, chair of the health committee, said the Health Center "has undergone tremendous cost cutting efforts in the past four to five years," cutting $27 million from its budget, including $20 million from Dempsey Hospital, yet the hospital had a deficit of $4.5 million in its 1996 operating budget.

The board approved a $113 million operating budget for Dempsey Hospital for fiscal year 1998 that Cutler said would allow the hospital to break even.

The board also approved a tuition waiver for members of AFSCME, the clerical bargaining unit, to take undergraduate courses at UConn on a space available basis, and an intersession agreement with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The agreement offers faculty three alternative forms of compensation for teaching during a two-week period in January: teaching load adjustment, pay, or a deposit into a professional development fund to support the faculty member's research and teaching. Participation in the intersession program is voluntary.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu