State auditors find UConn misusing maintenance money

UConn

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — State auditors say the University of Connecticut misused bonding money that was earmarked for maintenance, diverting it instead to renovation and construction projects on campus.

The state auditors’ report released Tuesday covers the fiscal years that ended June 30, 2014, and 2015.

In it, auditors said they reviewed 20 large-ticket construction projects at the school and found that in 10 of them the school misused more than $49 million in deferred maintenance money from the school’s UConn 2000 bonding initiative.

The auditors said the school used the maintenance money for projects such as increasing seating at a dining hall, renovating laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment and improving the safety of pedestrian walkways with things such as new lighting and reconfigured bus stops.

The law at the time said the money could only be used to “repair of an infrastructure or structure that was not maintained, repaired or replaced in the usual course of maintenance and repair.”

It prohibited deferred maintenance money from being used for “activities aimed at expanding the capacity of an asset or otherwise upgrading it to serve needs different from, or significantly greater than, those originally intended.”

In its written response, the school says it believes the money was used appropriately to repair or renovate under-maintained facilities or bring projects up to current standards.

“The university has consistently reported this utilization of such funding to the legislature and other state agencies without objection,” the school said.

The auditors recommend the school find other funding sources for those types of renovation projects.

But the state legislature, during a special session earlier this year, amended the law at UConn’s request so that maintenance money can now be used to “renew, modernize, enhance and maintain” UConn 2000 projects.

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