YSU will have to lower its tuition increase.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State University will finalize an agreement shortly with a Cleveland company to determine the viability of redeveloping the Wick Pollock Inn.
John Habat, YSU's vice president for administration, said he expects a contract to be signed with Paran Management Co. for a marketing analysis of the facility. Habat is handling negotiations on this project for the university.
Paran is interested in reopening the facility, owned by YSU, as a 25-room inn.
Habat told the YSU board of trustees' finance and facilities committee Wednesday that the analysis should take 90 to 120 days to complete. It will include a business operation plan, the cost of rehabilitating the facility, and its viability, he said.
After the study is finished, YSU officials will determine if the project should proceed or be canceled, Habat said.
The study will cost close to $100,000, but not exceed that amount, Habat said.
Habat wouldn't say how the cost would be divided between YSU and Paran, but said the university would pay a portion of the cost.
A YSU committee assigned to recommend a company to redevelop the former inn sent requests to 22 companies, but only Paran sent a proposal.
Contents of proposal
Paran's proposal called for a 50-year lease, with the university paying $250,000 to the company. Once the facility is functioning, the company would give $250,000 to YSU, and pay an annual rent of $1 to the university.
Habat called Paran's original proposal a good starting point, and is negotiating with the company for a better deal.
Habat declined Wednesday to discuss the details of negotiations, except to say the two sides held two lengthy face-to-face meetings and have discussed the project numerous times on the telephone.
The inn closed in November 1998. The former mansion on Wick Avenue, built in 1893, was used for classrooms and offices with 14 guest suites, a restaurant and a ballroom. Sixty-four rooms were added in the 1980s, and it was converted into a hotel.
State budget's impact
Also at Tuesday's meeting, Habat discussed the state's $51.4 billion biennium budget's impact on YSU.
YSU trustees approved a 9 percent increase in tuition in January -- 6 percent for general tuition, 2 percent for technology improvements and 1 percent for financial aid. The increase takes effect in the fall semester.
But the Ohio House approved a budget package last week with a 6 percent cap, and no allowances for increases for anything but tuition.
The Ohio Senate is expected to pass its budget bill in early June. The two legislative bodies will hold a conference committee to iron out differences in their bills and have it to the governor no later than July 1.
Habat said he seriously doubts the final budget will increase the 6 percent cap, leaving YSU about $2.1 million short of its original budget.
There is, however, some good news, he said.
YSU expects to make about $300,000 more in its investments than originally anticipated, Habat said. Also, the House bill calls for a smaller cut in state funding to higher education than the governor's budget proposal. That smaller cut would give YSU about $750,000 to $800,000 more than the governor's proposal.
The rest of the money needed to avoid the shortfall could come from other programs, Habat said.