A contract to send rebate checks to Nevada vehicle owners is expected to be approved Thursday, and University of Nevada, Reno officials are hoping some of them will be redirected to the school.
University officials waiting for Nevadans to start receiving $300 million in rebate checks from the Department of Motor Vehicles have put a "tax rebate gift" option on the school's donor Web site, and are beginning a fund-raising drive targeting the money residents are scheduled to receive before the end of the year.
"We would like to encourage Nevadans to donate their rebates to the university as unrestricted gifts," said Mary-Ellen McMullen, chairwoman of the University foundation's Board of Trustees.
"As the needs of the state grow, we need to find other ways of funding university programs."
The State of Nevada Board of Examiners is expected to finalize a $1.4 million contract with Bank of America to issue the 1.9 million checks Thursday.
Since there is no state income tax in Nevada, the checks will be mailed out to residents based on Department of Motor Vehicle records.
Residents will receive as much as they paid into the Highway Fund in 2004, with a maximum of $275 and a minimum of $75. Seniors with no cars but valid identification cards will also be receiving $75.
The checks are scheduled to be sent out "later this year," according to a state Web site, although an exact date or month has yet to be established.
"The people of Nevada have been waiting patiently for their checks. They deserve to share in the state surplus of gaming and sales taxes, which have been the result of a robust economy," the governor said Monday.
The state university system this year failed in a bid to keep the full funding recommended by Gov. Kenny Guinn, with enrollment growth so far falling short of earlier projections. Lawmakers cut $23.5 million from the university system's funding over the next biennium.
Overall, it was a good year for the school, said John Carothers, a university foundation vice president in charge of development and alumni affairs. A new library, or "knowledge center," is going in and the state put up $32 million for a new math and science building, for which the school is trying to raise another $18 million privately.
Still, he said, the state's student population and the university system's needs are booming with everything else in Nevada, and donations are a crucial part of keeping up with demand.
"People have their favorite charitable organizations," he said, adding that distribution of the upcoming rebate is a good time to remind them what a good cause higher education is.
McMullen said the tax-deductible gifts to the university would be used for research, public performances, scholastic programs and student scholarships. Donations would go into the school's unrestricted funds, which can be used at the institution's discretion.
"A lot of times that is the funding we can't get from the Legislature," McMullen said.
The rebate plan calls for Bank of America to subcontract with Moore Wallace, the world's largest mailing company, to issue the checks. Moore Wallace has done similar mailings in the states of Washington and Minnesota.
About two dozen companies contacted the state expressing interest in handling the check-processing - a job initially estimated to cost up to $2 million.
Excluded from the rebate will be utility trailers, vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds and rental car fleets. Taxicab companies and other businesses that have big fleets will qualify for the rebate.
n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at email@example.com or 881-1217.
How To Give
• On the Internet go to http://giving.unr.edu/ and click on "Make-A-Gift online," then select "Tax Rebate Gift"
• Endorse the check, write "pay to UNRF" under the signature, and send it to University of Nevada, Reno Foundation, MS 162, Reno, NV, 89557-0090
• For information on donating to the university, call (775) 784-1352.