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May 23, 2007

Roll Call

  • Voting Members:
  • Mary Engel, CEPAC Chair-elect
  • Rose Cain
  • Kristine Mashaw
  • Diane Helgeson
  • Bob Monnin
  • Sheron McIlhattan
  • Dan McGuire
  • Non-voting Members:
  • Kevin Thane
  • Carol Shannon
  • Gale Wiedenaar
    Others present:
  • Chris Bauer
  • Steven Beasley
  • Marla Wesen
  • Ron Ramsfield
  • Terry Dysart
  • Kathie Callahan
  • Diane Wyn
  • Jason Rosen
  • Kelly Raymond
  • Deepu Phillips
  • Joan Macdonald
  • Sara France

Apologies for Absence

Michelle Larsen, CEPAC Chair.

Minutes of the Last Meeting

Sheron McIlhattan moved that the minutes of the April 25 2007 meeting be approved and Diane Helgeson seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

General Business

There was no general business on the agenda for today's meeting in order to accommodate our guest speakers. A couple of brief updates were offered however: (i) the Employee Experience Survey outcomes have been published and circulated. The concept of staff mentoring is one of the CEPAC/MUSSA initiatives approved by the Board of Regents, and some of these initiatives are being progressed on campus by the Division of Administration and Finance. Having completed its research into mentoring (via the Employee Experience survey) CEPAC has requested that Administration and Finance consider including mentoring among the programs currently being developed. We await their feedback. (ii) CEPAC has a computer to relocate to the benefit of the Committee. Please submit ideas in this regard to Sara France. (iii) Next meeting of the OCHE Recruitment and Retention Task Force (of which Sara France is a member) is in Helena on Friday, May 25th.

Guest Speaker: Vice President Craig Roloff

Mary Engel welcomed Vice President for Administration and Finance, Craig Roloff and thanked him for agreeing to give CEPAC more information about affordable housing efforts, on campus and in the community.

Craig gave an overview of MSU activity in response to concern over increasing difficulty for employees of all categories to find affordable housing in Bozeman. President Gamble has repeatedly raised the issue with the Board of Regents, and CEPAC (with MUSSA) has presented specific information regarding local cost of living issues as well. Currently, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) is leading a task force looking at these problems System-wide. This, the OCHE Recruitment and Retention Task Force has been charged to consider solutions that may include a focus on certain classifications of employee, or certain locations.

Meanwhile, MSU is participating with group in the Bozeman community focusing on similar issues. Our locality is seeing these efforts reflected in various new and proposed housing developments beginning to incorporate affordable housing elements. However, some of the cheapest initial attempts within the still resulted in prices of about $246,000! Subsequently, the City has formed an affordable housing task force. Craig reports a diverse membership including consumers, realtors, engineers, architects, Habitat for Humanity, independent developers, and MSU (represented by Craig). The task force secured Chamber of Commerce and South Western Montana Builders' Association support before reporting to the City. The City Commission, having approved task force recommendations, and is now developing policy, with a target date of July 1 (i.e. relevant to subdivisions proposed on or after 7/1/07).

Key elements within the recommendations include:

  • 10% of units (10% being keyed to total acreage and number of lots to be developed) would be required to be affordable (the definition of "affordable" being based on Average Median Income [AMI] for the community as set by the Federal government [and being the standard that banks etc use in loan approval]). The affordable housing allocation would likely include a mix of multiple family units and some detached, single family homes. The price, for example of a unit within a multiple family building, would perhaps be 80% of the AMI, bearing in mind that AMI can also be established based on family size. Thus, the AMI for a couple would be different from that of family of four.
  • Developers would be permitted to allocate for affordable housing those lots which are a percentage smaller than other lots for sale. Developers would be required to sell those lots earmarked for affordable housing at substantially less than standard prices.
  • Builders would be required to construct affordable housing on these specific lots.

It was also mentioned that at re-sale owners will be allowed the opportunity to build some equity, but that housing designated as "affordable" will be maintained as such, perhaps using resale price caps linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or to growth in the AMI.

At Craig's invitation, last month, some of those working on the City task force made presentations to campus employees. These were a series of highlights from the HRDC "Road to Home" 10-session program. Attendees were introduced to the concept of affordable housing, and to some of the opportunities that make homeownership feasible - both in terms of loans, and units available. Afterwards, MSU conducted a random sample staff survey to assess the level of interest in affordable housing on campus. Data has yet to be compiled (this is the point MSU's activity has reached to date) but Craig hopes to arrange for developers to meet with interested employees, perhaps through sack lunch seminars.

Discussion followed. Topics touched upon included:

  • how current student demand for existing campus housing renders it unlikely that employees could be accommodated there beyond the current temporary, special circumstance policy
  • how the logistical, political, financial factors affect MSU's potential to construct employee housing on campus land, and why this is currently a goal for the long-term future
  • how MSU is pursuing a variety of initiatives (such as involvement in the City's affordable housing task force) rather than focusing solely on issues of salary.

Mary Engel asked what CEPAC can do to help employees learn about affordable housing, and to gather more information. Craig suggested spreading the word; encouraging interested employees to contact the Administration and Finance office to join the mailing list for announcements of further information and future presentations; promoting the provision of feedback after presentations, letting the developers know there is positive interest; and assisting in communicating where to find help in preparing to buy: financial planning what price, what size, what it takes to qualify to buy a home - and how the process of building the equity necessary to achieve our "dream home" begins with perhaps an 800 sq ft apartment.

Mary expressed CEPAC's regrets that time for the discussion was limited, but thanked Craig very much for providing this encouraging information. CEPAC will keep in touch and provide whatever assistance it can in promoting these endeavors.

Guest Speakers: President Gamble and Vice President Tom McCoy

President Gamble and Vice President for Research, Tom McCoy returned to CEPAC today in order to provide information on research revenue and how it is expended, after questions were raised of the President at last month's meeting. They offered an overview and specific information, and to answer any questions. Many topics were covered, detailing:
  • how indirect costs are negotiated (referred to variably as ICR, IDC, and the current Federally-approved term of F&A - facilities and administration - costs)
  • why the actual F&A costs recovered are less than the negotiated (or "effective") F&A rate
  • the F&A caps and limits imposed by funding sources
  • why it's important to MSU, as a land grant institution, to conduct research even though the sponsor may limit F&A, and how MSU ensures no financial losses result
  • the 1989 law defining how indirect costs from research grants to the Montana University System are to be used
  • how MSU distributes the funds received in recovered F&A, and how the money may be spent.

    Discussion was invited, and themes included: operations and maintenance funding for new buildings; the potential increased earning power of improved facilities (and covering associated debt service and running costs); and the pros and cons of the State making a distinction between research and academic buildings. As the person who raised the issue initially last month was not present today, Vice President McCoy offered to answer questions direct, should any concern remain unanswered.

    Next, the conversation moved to: budget issues in general, including the current pay plan; why MSU isn't considering its own vet or medical school; why proof had to be in place that the purchase price and all subsequent running costs could be covered indefinitely before MSU could consider pursuing acquision of the Story Mansion; and student recruitment and retention - their impact on MSU's funding.

    At 11:00 am, there being no more time, the meeting was adjourned. Before leaving, President Gamble asked to be invited to return to give a legislative overview, once the recent Legislative sessions are entirely wrapped up and bills signed by the Governor.


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