In a meeting Tuesday afternoon, members of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a $156 million energy conservation project for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The board also approved excess salary requests for over 100 people in the athletic department at UA Fayetteville. 

The energy conservation project at the UAMS campus is part of the Arkansas Energy Performance Contracting Program, which was created by Act 554 in 2013. The law allows state agencies to use revenue from energy savings — including those on electricity, gas, fuel oil, water, maintenance or other types of “operational costs” — to pay for capital improvement bonds. The statute requires the debt on the bonds to be paid off in 20 years. 

The project also includes an $11.8 million “realignment” of Pine and Cedar streets into one “boulevard” complete with about 300 new parking spaces. 

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The board’s vote on Tuesday does not include approval of financing for the project, which would require a revenue bond to be issued. The board will vote on the bond issue at its meeting in September. Christina Clark, vice chancellor for institutional support services and COO at UAMS, said plans for the project have not been submitted to the Little Rock Planning Commission yet, as she was waiting for the board’s approval of the project before moving forward with the city. Clark said she will begin talks with city leaders about the project after the bond is issued. 

The project will have to be approved for recommendation by the Planning Commission before it appears before the Little Rock Board of Directors for a final vote. Clark said the project will take three years to complete once approved. 

In addition to approving the energy conservation project, the board also approved excess salary increases for 102 people in the athletic department at UA Fayetteville, including a $4.7 million salary for Chad Morris, head football coach. 

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