Total Bed Bugs Costs Exceed $300,000

DailyNebraskan.com
Friday, April 6, 2012

Associate director of Housing Facilities Glen Schumann said it wouldn't surprise him if Housing's bedbug-battling costs exceeded $100,000 at a Feb. 1 media briefing.

He was right.

Since the first case of bedbugs on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, much has been done to eradicate the pests: a campuswidesweep with bedbug-sniffing dogs, heat-treatments and purchasing equipment.

All of the treatment and equipment costs added up quickly. In two months, University Housing spent almost $325,000 on treating bedbug-positive rooms.

"Despite the financial costs and the significant amount of extra work on the part of so many in Housing, I believe it was money and time well spent to be able to tell our residents that we had checked their room and they were clear," wrote Housing Director Sue Gildersleevein an email. "And that we had provided the most effective (though costly) treatment when needed."

According to invoices provided to the Daily Nebraskan via an Open Records request, heat treatments cost $1,400 per room.

So far, 197 rooms have been treated.

Of the total amount spent on treatment, Housing spent almost $61,000 on equipment including heat duffel bags, heating equipment and a CO2 unit.

Housing made good use of the equipment and Gildersleeve expects the equipment to be useful in the future.

"The advantage of this equipment is that it lets us 'spot treat' items that a bedbug-checking dog identifies and, in some cases, can let us avoid the cost and inconvenience to the student that comes with treating the entire room,"Gildersleeve wrote.

With such a large sum spent on eliminating the bedbugs, thoughts arise of how Housing will recover from the expense.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Juan Franco said the good thing about the situation is that Housing has a $5 million budget with a small contingency fund. The bedbug expenses fall into that contingency fund.

"We've had a mild winter and we haven't had to spend as much (on heating)," Franco said. "We've been fortunate in that way."

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents set housing rates four years ago, so the bedbug costs will not be factored in for 2012-2013.

If Housing were to ask students to pay for the bedbug costs, the price would come down to $65 per student. Franco said the amount spent was worth the $65.

"We will budget for this bedbug inspection and treatment expense as we do so many other operating expenses, so students don't need to expect to pay an extra fee," Gildersleeve wrote.

Franco said that while the process was exhaustive and Housing was willing to spend the money to make sure rooms were cleared, he was delighted it was over.

"It was an effort, but I'm very pleased," Franco said. "From the beginning, my goal was to provide a comfortable place for students to live in. I'm comfortable with where we're at."

Costs per residence hall

Abel/Sandoz - $75,358.20

Burr/Fedde - $5,375

Cather/Pound/Neihardt - $36,827.50

Central Housing - $9,563.72

Courtyards - $12,580

Harper/Schramm/Smith - $56,262.50

Husker Hall - $8,237.50

Kauffman - $12,477.50

Knoll - $13,120

Love Memorial Hall - $2,437.50

Selleck - $62,994.60

Village - $29,012.50

Equipment - $60,581
 

Total - $384,827.52