October 22, 2009

Status of stimulus fund uncertain

Knox promised

money but unsure

of arrival date

By Anna Meier

The Knox Student

When Governor Pat Quinn passed the State Capital Appropriations Bill last year, Knox was promised a share of what it thought was stimulus money. A year later, the funds have yet to be seen, and their source has become even more ambiguous.

“It’s frustrating. It would be very, very nice to take advantage of those funds,” said Tom Axtell, Knox’s vice president for finance.

Under the appropriations bill, the college was allotted $2.9 million in what it thought was stimulus money. Prior to this, Knox had submitted a list of possible projects to the Illinois government.

“I was so excited when I first heard about it,” Axtell said. “$2.9 million is more than we’ve been able to use in a long time without incurring debt.”

The list of projects created by the college would cost much more than $2.9 million, however. Questions began to arise about which projects were approved and, most importantly, when the money would arrive.

“The more questions we asked, the more elusive the answers became,” Axtell said.

After the state government announced that it was not certain of the source of the funds for the bill, whether or not the bill was actually backed by stimulus money came into question.

“My assumption was that the federal government gave the states stimulus dollars and then they could appropriate them,” said Axtell. “[But] I don’t think anybody knows how stimulus actually works.”

Possible Projects

The list Knox submitted to the state government encompassed a wide variety of projects.

“One [project] was to put sprinklers in the residence halls,” Axtell said. “However, this is already 60 percent complete and will probably be finished next year.”

Other items included putting elevators in Old Main and GDH as well as redoing Wallace Lounge, half of the costs of which have already been built into this year’s budget.

Currently, funding for such projects comes from the Annual Capital Projects Fund.

“Right now, it would take a couple of years to save up for a particular project,” Axtell said. “With the stimulus money, we wouldn’t have to skimp on [this fund].”

Still, as has become a common theme with the stimulus money, Axtell is uncertain what constraints there would be on its use — or whether it will even appear in the first place.

“We don’t want to get our hopes […] too high, but [the money] is still a possibility,” he said.

Anna Meier

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