By: Hali Harden, Staff Reporter
After a few weeks of debate between Student Government and UNF administration, the two parties have agreed on one-time costs for Lend-A-Wing food pantry room renovations.
SG agreed to pay $5,025 for cleaning and lock reprogramming. The university will pay $2,675 for a security fence, tiling and to patch a hole in a wall.
But the lead-up to the final decision involved a plethora of unofficial costs and finger-pointing as to who should pay the costs.
The complicated lead up
Lend-A-Wing requested $4,540 from the Student Government Budget & Allocations Committee as a one-time expense for start-up funds Jan. 30. In a special request, $7,100 was added to the appeal for renovation and cleaning costs.
The SG Senate approved all fees requested for Lend-A-Wing.
The funds approved by SG for the project, as well as other projects and operating costs for various agencies on campus, derive from the Activity and Service Fee students pay to UNF.
Gia Ciccone, director of the Volunteer Center, is in charge of putting together the pantry for UNF. She said she was unaware additional fees would be added.
The increased request also caught members of the Senate and Student Body President Matt Brockelman off-guard.
The cause of the extra costs
UNF purchased the building, located on Kernan Boulevard, from America Online in 2007. Previously, AOL used the room allotted for Lend-A-Wing as a food cafeteria. Once UNF bought the building, Chartwells used the space for a cafeteria as well. Later, the cafeteria closed, and the area was used for storage.
UNF determined the extra costs to clean the area allotted to Lend-A-Wing should be included in the fees requested from SG.
Vince Smyth, director of UNF Auxiliary Services, sought quotes from companies for cleaning costs. Smyth said it was much more expensive than he had anticipated, but the $7,100 quoted was the lower of the two estimates he received. He also reviewed the costs with UNF Physical Facilities, who said the cost quoted was a reasonable one.
After reviewing the room, he said other costs arose, adding to the initial $7,100 quote.
In an email to Brockelman, Smyth said additional funds would be needed, including $50 to fix a lock for a sliding gate that encloses the pantry, $300 to fix a hole in the wall and $1,700 for a wire mesh fence that will temporarily separate items owned by Chartwells from the rest of the pantry until the new cafeteria opens in August.
At this point, the total cost for Lend-A-Wing’s start-up and renovation expenses increased to $13,690, a $9,150 difference from the initial Jan. 30 request.
“It’s not a full construction project, by any means,” Smyth said, “but it’s just enough to bring [the space] up to snuff to allow that the public can be walking around in there.”
Once SG decided to put the pantry in the UNF Hall, Smyth surveyed the room, and equipment that would not be useful for the pantry was auctioned off.
Smyth said he believed UNF made between $1,200 to $1,300 from the auction.
The removal of equipment left behind damages to the tiles, which were ripped up to remove equipment, and a hole in a wall where a pass-through warmer was removed.
Shari Shuman, Vice President of Administration and Finance, said the space was left stagnant after Chartwells left the cafeteria, and it became a storage area.
Shuman said costs for cleaning to reopen the space would be left to any organization that would want to utilize the area.
The expenditure that caused the biggest controversy was who would pay for the $1,700 fence that would separate the items Chartwells stores in the backroom.
It was decided the university will pay for the fence, not SG.
Before the final decision, Smyth said the fence was a detrimental part of preparing the space for Lend-A-Wing.
“In my opinion, it should be part of the student cost to get [the pantry] set up and ready to go,” Smyth said.
Shuman shared Smyth’s opinion and said the fence will be used temporarily.
Because there is a new cafeteria currently under construction, the fence would only be a temporary fixture until the cafeteria is completed, at which point Chartwells will obtain the items they have stored in the space.
“If they wanted to put off the food bank until August, that expense wouldn’t be needed,” Shuman said.
Brockelman took a different standpoint on the topic.
“As far as I’m concerned, we are allowing them to use the space to store their items, so if they want to secure it beyond trusting [students], then they can pay for the fence,” Brockelman said.
Brockelman also expressed a lack of communication during the auction process.
Some items, such as a sink, were sold during the auction that could have been used for the pantry and will now have to be replaced. Brockelman said he would have liked to have been more informed on the damages that were left behind once equipment was moved so SG could have assessed whether it would be cost-effective to remove the items.
Brockelman said he does not think there was anyone to blame, but there was a “huge communication gap” during the process.
Email Hali Harden at [email protected]