Highland Community College Trustees approve 2014 tax levy
At its November 18 meeting, the Highland Community College Board of Trustees approved the 2014 tax levy. The annual levy is expected to provide $6.3 million in operating funds to support the District's 2,300 full- and part-time students and public services. The College's property tax rate of 49 cents per $100 of assessed valuation is estimated to remain unchanged from the previous fiscal year. The levy also aims to ensure that the College meets the requirements needed to be eligible for unrestricted State funding.
"State funding has decreased annually - we've lost almost $300,000 over the course of the last three years," said Jill Janssen, vice president of administrative services. "As a result, the State of Illinois provides only 13 percent of the funding needed to support the College. The traditional model of the state providing one-third no longer holds true. Revenue is now comprised of 45 percent local taxes, 38 percent tuition, and approximately 4 percent from other sources."
Highland sets forth one levy for the tax year that is shared by the four counties served. The dollars levied are based on an estimate of equalized assessed valuation (EAV), which will be determined the spring of next year. The amount levied includes the assumption that HCC will maintain a similar tax rate to previous years. The College's overall tax rate for the past two years has been at or below 49 cents. Homeowners were taxed about 49 cents per $100 for their EAV.
According to Janssen, the actual tax dollars received are based on the EAV of the District, which is determined in June following the tax levy. If the EAV generates more taxes than the District levies, those dollars cannot be collected. Conversely, if the EAV generates fewer taxes than the District levies, the total amount levied will not be collected. It is typical for the District to receive less tax dollars than is levied.
"Our largest source of unrestricted State funding (Equalization grant) is dependent on the District levying at 95 percent of the maximum rate in our operating funds," Janssen said. "The District's EAV decreased 4.1 percent from tax year 2012 to 2013, causing tax revenue to decrease."
Based on discussions with local assessors, the decrease in the District's overall EAV from 2013 to 2014 is estimated at about one percent. The College levy incorporates a higher estimated increase due to the importance of meeting the maximum rate in the Operating Funds.
The tax levy for 2014 includes a protection, health, and safety project that will provide for outdoor security lighting upgrades. The College also levies the cost of the annual audit, liability insurance, workersâ€™ compensation insurance, and social security.