Originally created 12/21/96

ASU finds hope for funding of building improvements



Augusta State University sees a happy future in spending legislation being sent to the General Assembly in January.

Gov. Zell Miller's proposed budget will include requests for $5.3 million to Augusta State for projects the college already knew it would get this year. The money includes $4.9 million for a central utility plant and $350,000 for emergency planning needs.

"It's not new news," said Bill Bloodworth, Augusta State president.

But it offers a glimpse of what 1998 likely will bring - money for a new classroom building to replace asbestos-filled buildings now in use.

Mr. Miller is following a plan proposed by the University System of Georgia in asking for the $5.3 million for Augusta State now, Dr. Bloodworth said. He interprets that as a signal the governor will ask lawmakers in 1998 for the money to build the new classroom complex.

"Then that's a very good sign that next year we will have major project money," Dr. Bloodworth said. "We're pleased with what the governor has done. Our hope now is that ... that opens the door for a major project here."

Details of how much Augusta State and other public colleges are asking lawmakers for came from a meeting earlier this week with Chancellor Stephen Portch and legislators. Dr. Portch unveiled what funding requests he sent to Mr. Miller, who in turn sends requests to the General Assembly.

Included in Dr. Portch's preview are 6 percent pay raises for faculty members and millions for renovation and building projects.

Savannah State University would get about $2 million for renovations and building needs under the plan. That school seeks to rebuild its dormitories.

The Board of Regents is seeking $126.2 million for construction projects and $8 million for repairs and maintenance, of which Mr. Miller has promised to support $4 million.

Dr. Portch told committee members that if his funding program is approved, the state university system's ranking in the region will increase from about No. 3 or No. 4 to No. 1.

"By the end of this governor's term, we should be on top," he said

Monday.

Morris News Service writer Lawrence Viele{CQ} contributed to this article.