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Although the town has said it isn't happy with the cost-sharing situation, University officials said at the UNC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday that they are ready to respond to the town's concerns.

"We indicated to the mayor that after today, we will be prepared to respond to the memorandum of understanding," said Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor for finance and administration, referring to a document issued by the Chapel Hill Town Council on Sept. 10.

The memorandum outlined 17 areas of cost sharing on which the town and the University wanted to reach consensus, and Suttenfield said the chancellor would send a letter to Mayor Rosemary Waldorf addressing UNC's progress on the issues.

Several of these fiscal equity issues were settled when the Development Plan was approved, said Town Manager Cal Horton. In negotiating for the Development Plan, UNC administrators agreed to continue their policy of handling all trash disposal from University buildings. They also will maintain new streets, if the streets are built solely for University development, and they will pay for the burden on the transit system if more students are accepted.

"At a meeting several weeks ago, we reviewed each of the issues. We concluded we had addressed most of the major issues by way of the Development Plan and the town stipulations added to the Development Plan," Suttenfield said.

But several troubling discrepancies remain, and they represent a significant amount of money, Horton said.

"Every time the University builds another building, that's another building that our fire department has to protect," he said. "We think the University should be paying $1.4 million for fire services, and right now they are paying $850,000."

Suttenfield also said several significant issues, such as a request for the University to mitigate the adverse effects of traffic and storm water, still are awaiting negotiation.

The town also holds the position that all land the University purchases that could support tax-paying entities, such as businesses or homes, should incur property taxes -- something to which the University has not yet agreed.

The town also must bear the extremely expensive cost of cleaning up Franklin Street after the spontaneous celebrations that follow winning basketball games. "The last NCAA tournament cost $75,000," Horton said. "The University makes no contribution to that."

But when Suttenfield asked the BOT for its opinion on the fiscal equity issue, trustee Stick Williams said he had some concerns. He said he hoped the General Assembly would form a study committee so UNC would not have to set a precedent itself.

Williams also said he wanted to see the non-monetary benefits that UNC brings the town, such as research and intellectual climate, incorporated into the discussions, even if no specific price tag can be put on those contributions.

"Before we go give money, I hope there's some way we can establish the kind of contributions we're already making," Williams said. "It's easy to to say the University is costing the town, but they don't see what benefit it brings."

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