NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents at its regular meeting Tuesday approved an operating budget of $212.9 million for the 2009-10 fiscal year, along with a capital budget totaling approximately $9.9 million.

The capital budget will fund extensive renovations to the Chemistry Building totaling approximately $6 million. Improvements to Kennedy Auditorium, campus entrance signage, several residence halls and other university facilities also are included.

The board also approved seeking Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board authority to issue revenue financing bonds for the construction of a new freshman residence hall and parking garage. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration, said the administration will seek approval for $35 million; however, the actual construction cost is expected to be considerably less.

The new 1,000-car parking garage should be completed by August 2010, and the opening of the new residence hall will follow a year later in time for the fall 2011 semester. Garner Apartments, located south of East College Cafeteria near the intersection of East College Street and Wilson Drive, will be demolished to make room for the new facilities.

The operating budget includes a 3-percent salary increase merit pool for faculty and staff and other increases for faculty promotions, salary equity adjustments and staff reclassifications, bringing the university's total salary increase commitment to 4 percent.

"On behalf of all of our faculty and staff, I would like to thank the Board of Regents for approving the 4-percent commitment to salary increases across the campus," SFA President Baker Pattillo said at the meeting Tuesday. "You have been extremely generous to our employees, and I can assure you they are very deserving of this increase."

Based on a 15-semester-credit-hour course load, the budget also includes a 4.7-percent increase in tuition and fees, along with an average increase in room rates of 4.8 percent and a 1-percent increase in the cost of meal plans.

The board approved seeking Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approval for an energy performance contract with Siemens once the scope of the project has been identified and approved by the regents. Siemens is currently conducting a detailed energy audit of the campus to identify opportunities for greater environmental sustainability, energy conservation and savings. The cost of the contract is not to exceed $20 million, which will be funded with savings realized from the university's current utility budgets.

At the meeting Tuesday, regents voted to reappoint the four SFA employees who report directly to the board, including the president, general counsel, director of audit services and assistant to the board. The board also accepted the transfer of the Ed and Gwen Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House from the SFA Real Estate Foundation to the university.