Making college campuses 'political subdivisions,' to take advantage of a revolving loan program

Dec 6, 2018

(Note: Story will be updated with action of the Board of Higher Education.)

The University of North Dakota wants to see if it can tap into a “revolving loan fund” set up for cities, counties and other political subdivisions to help pay for roads, curbs, gutters and similar improvements.

That loan fund is through the Bank of North Dakota.

"Of course, universities are not political subdivisions," UND Vice-President for Finance and Operations Jed Shivers told a subcommittee of the Board of Higher Education.

One potential option for UND to access those funds would be to have campuses treated as political subdivisions.

"As universities, we are carrying an infrastructure that is very city-like," Shivers said. "That would be true of all the campuses across the system."

That would take Legislative action.

Shivers said the other proposal would have UND partner with the city. Grand Forks would have $15 million available to it – and he said one concept is to have the Legislature expand the revolving loan fund, so Grand Forks could leverage more of that money. He said UND could then partner with the city.

"In some cases, there would be good synergies," Shivers said. "Right now, one stops and the other starts, depending on where the border is for the work being done."

Shivers said the advantage in either option would be loans at 2 percent interest rates.

A committee of the Board of Higher Education approved the concept of having campuses designated as political subdivisions. The full Board will take it up later today.