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[whitespace] Show Me the Money

By Patrick Sullivan

How much will the ambitious Green Music Center project wind up costing the public? Not much, argue Sonoma State University officials: "The Green Music Center Construction project is financed by fundraising efforts," they write in response to questions submitted by the 'Bohemian.' But reality may not be so simple.

Of course, GMC organizers have raised about $20.5 million in private money toward the $48.7 million estimated construction cost. But one huge additional expense--$11.3 million to buy land and construct a parking lot and related infrastructure around the GMC--is being covered by the university's parking fund.

SSU officials argue that the parking lot and related infrastructure would be needed for the campus even if the Green Music Center were still just a twinkle in Don Green's eye. "The University has acquired land to expand student parking capacity mandated by projected enrollment growth," SSU officials write.

"While this project is technically independent of the Green Music Center, the University has chosen to locate the parking lot adjacent to the Green Music Center so it can serve dual purposes."

But that projected enrollment growth doesn't seem to be materializing. Indeed, figures show that the number of students enrolled at SSU in 2000 was actually lower than it was in 1991. Enrollment dropped again in 2001.

The public is dinged for the project in other ways. For instance, well-paid university officials (including President Armiñana, who makes more than $200,000 a year) have spent significant amounts of time planning the project and raising private money for the GMC.

And an even bigger financial question will present itself when the building is complete: Where will the operating money come from? The answer: partly from the taxpayers, as SSU officials admit. "Historically, the California State University has provided campuses with resources to support facilities management and utility costs associated with new University buildings," they write.

"The University is hopeful that the Green Music Center will be able to utilize this fund source for facilities and utility costs."

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From the November 1-7, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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