HCC Board of Trustees vote on tentative budget for 2015 fiscal year

The Highland Community College Board of Trustees approved a tentative 2015 fiscal year budget during their July meeting. The permanent budget will be submitted to the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) once adopted by Trustees during their September meeting.

In the tentative budget, operating revenues are about $14.2 million and budgeted expenses are about $14.8 million. Overall, the tentative operating fund budget includes a deficit of about $510,000. It is expected that many changes will be made between the adoption of the tentative budget and the presentation of the permanent budget at the September meeting. Final state allocations have not been announced for fiscal year 2015, however, an estimate provided by the ICCB indicates that the allocation is about $130,000 less than fiscal year 2014.

The operating funds tentative budget estimates that revenue will be less than 1 percent greater than fiscal year 2014 and expenses will be about 2.8 percent greater than the previous year.

"Some costs, such as the cost for unfunded state mandated tuition waivers and employee health insurance have increased, but overall, many costs have been or will be reduced in order to bring expenses more in line with expected revenues," said Jill Janssen, Vice President of Administrative Services. "The College maintains a fund balance, or reserve, which will also be utilized to absorb the deficit. The goal is to adopt a permanent budget that maintains fund balance levels recommended by the ICCB."

The permanent budget to be presented to the board in September will include adjustments as more information is incorporated, such as final enrollment numbers for fall and state and federal restricted grant funding.

"The good news is that the majority of the operating budget is allocated for instruction and direct student services, both of which are vital to students and the District," Janssen added

As of June 30, 2014, the State owes the College about $347,000 in unrestricted funds and $110,000 in restricted funds. As required by law, Highland provided about $135,000 of funding for students who were awarded Illinois Veteran's grants and other state grants that the state will not be funding. This is expected to continue in FY15.

In other financial matters, Trustees approved a debt certificate parameters resolution. This is the first step in the process that will allow the College to raise $3.2 million to be used for capital needs such as maintaining the college's technology infrastructure and equipment, updating classroom audio-visual equipment, updating the chemistry lab, and providing other instructional tools such as lab equipment and software. Next steps include publishing the intent to adopt a resolution to issue funding bonds, holding a public hearing at the September 16 board meeting, and adopting a resolution to issue funding bonds at the October 21 meeting.

Highland officials have pointed out that the College is planning carefully to try to ensure that the tax rate remains unchanged.

"We have an opportunity to decrease the tax rate in our special funds such as the protection, health, and safety fund, because we have completed a number of safety and energy efficiency-related projects," Janssen said. "That decrease, along with a tapering off of existing bonds, will allow us to make the needed technology and infrastructure purchases with little or no impact on the overall tax rate."

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Freeport, IL 61032-9341

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