Lot’s funding discussed

By Jim Wozniak

NIU will have to pay back 10 percent annually of the revenue bonds the university is using to pay for construction of a parking lot south of Founders Memorial Library, said Jim Harder, vice president for business and operations.

The 10 percent will have to come solely from parking sticker fees, parking fines and meters because the Parking Division receives no money in the university budget to build or maintain parking lots, he said. Harder said NIU has formed a task force consisting of administrative and parking representatives to study the parking situation and possibly the fee structure.

Eddie Williams, vice president for finance and planning, said sticker fees probably would have to be increased.

Williams said it cost NIU about $300,000 to purchase the estimated 45,000 square feet of land from the Wesley Foundation.

arder speculated the university would have to pay about $200,000 to remove the topsoil; install a base, an all-weather hard surface, drainage, lighting, curbs and gutters; landscape the area; and paint the lot. Williams also said it would cost NIU about $40,000 to remove the four houses and two garages on the land.

These costs total about $540,000, which would mean NIU would have to raise about $54,000 a year. Harder said the university is using bond revenue to pay for all costs associated with the parking lot.

But NIU also will have to pay interest on the balance. NIU Controller Robert Albanese said the interest rate structure is complex but averages out to about 9 percent a year. The university would finish paying off the revenue bonds used on this project in 27 years, he said.

arder said, “The general rule of thumb is the payback and principle. The debt service is for principle (direct costs) and interest. The debt sevice is figured at about 10 percent.”

Albanese said NIU probably would not begin repaying the revenue bonds for a couple of months. But payments will be dated back to Sept. 17, when the land deal officially was closed, he said. He said he believes NIU will make only one or two payments a year, but whether that move becomes policy remains to be decided.

NIU will not have to pay interest on the estimated $540,000 the entire time, however. Albanese said the university only will have to pay interest on the balance.

arder said, “I would assume the meter is running. The meter is just like when you go to buy a car.”

The task force has met once to evaluate the parking situation, Harder said. However, he declined to say whether the force was making plans for changing sticker fees because “any speculation would be premature and a disservice to the task force.

“They’re looking at the overall parking situation on campus and trying to develop an overall comprehensive parking plan,” he said. “I would think it should include parking fee structure.”

Bill Parker, director of academic support services and task force chairman, was unavailable for comment.

arder said he does not know if the parking lot will remain forever or be replaced in a couple of years by another building.

“Forever is a long, long time,” he said. “I would assume if we’re making the effort to build this that it would stay for a while. Our division has been given the assignment to build a parking lot.”

NIU bought the land south of the library to Locust Street and between Carroll Avenue and Normal Road. The purchase, for which the state gave NIU an allocation almost 20 years ago, did not include the Wesley Foundation building, 633 W. Locust, or its parking lot.