Trustees transfer authority on projects up to $500,000

The Board of Trustees voted earlier this month to increase the president’s authority in approving spending projects.

Capital expenditures under a new threshold will not require approval by Temple’s highest governing body, the Board of Trustees, as decided by the board on April 10. Intended to cover routine capital projects, this threshold has risen at a high rate as the university’s small projects have become increasingly expensive.

Under the new Approval of Capital Expenditures policy, all capital projects, like construction or renovation, that are under $500,000 will not have to be voted on by the board, and can be passed with the approval of the president.

In 1969, the original establishment of the policy at Temple set the threshold for board approval at $25,000. Nearly three decades later, that number increased to $150,000. The threshold moved again in 1998, doubling to $300,000. During the combined trustees facilities and executive committees meeting earlier this month, the policy was amended and the threshold was moved to its highest level yet at $500,000.

The policy’s threshold rose at a yearly rate 38 percentage points faster than annual inflation, which is 4.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

Jim Creedon, senior vice president for construction, facilities and operations, said the move will make the process of project approval simpler to increase efficiency.

“It’s flexibility in time,” Creedon said. “It just gives us – in that area [below] $500,000 dollars – the ability to get a project started three or four weeks ahead of when it normally would have, and that can be a big advantage to us.”

The general body meetings of the board are not regularly scheduled but occur roughly several times during the academic year. The facilities and executive committees meet roughly six times a year.

The projects that are typically under $500,000 are maintenance or small renovations, Creedon said. Examples of recent projects that don’t require approval now include a ceiling replacement, security camera installation and renovations to the swimming pool at Pearson Hall.

Creedon said in the last two years there have been between 40 to 50 capital expenditure requests annually that needed board approval. The number of requests has been increasing in recent years, Creedon said.

Launched in 2009, the university’s 20/20 Plan commissioned six projects to construct new buildings or renovate existing ones.

Temple’s new Visualize Temple plan is set to continue construction on Main Campus. Details have not been announced of what the plan entails besides the construction of a $190 million library on the site currently occupied by Barton Hall.

In October, the board approved an $800,000 demolition of four vacant properties along the 1500 block of North Broad Street, which include the former Temple Garden property and Gateway appliance store.

The Fiscal Year 2014 operating budget set aside $33 million for Facilities Management.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

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