FREEPORT — During its November 20 meeting, the Highland Community College Board of Trustees approved the annual tax levy. The proposed levy would provide $6.1 million in operating funds to support the district’s 2,600 full and part-time students. The College’s property tax rate of 49 cents per $100 of assessed valuation is estimated to remain unchanged from the previous fiscal year.
Influences on the tax levy calculation include property tax predictions, voter-approved tax rates, and legislature-regulated categories of revenue and budget estimates. The taxes collected each year are a result of Highland's tax rate multiplied by the District's equalized assessed valuation (EAV).
“The tax levy amount ensures Highland will remain eligible for unrestricted state funding which is very important,” said Vice President of Administrative Services Jill Janssen. “State contributions have declined $700,000 over the last four fiscal years to account for just 12 percent of total revenues, well below the one-third designated by the traditional model of state funding for community colleges.”
According to Janssen, this general funding provides the flexibility needed to support traditional student services and instructional costs. Additionally, Trustees approved tax levies to cover specific budget items such as auditing expenses, liability insurance coverage, workman’s compensation claims, Social Security and Medicare costs.
In other financial news, Trustees approved a resolution providing for the issuance of taxable general obligation bonds for working cash purposes in the amount of two million dollars. The funds from the bond sale can only be used to support the cash flow of the College and ensure that payments can be made for current expenses. Due to economic conditions, the State has not been able to make payments to the College on a regular schedule, which could create potential cash flow issues.
According to Janssen, “The State of Illinois still owes the College about $85,000 from the past fiscal year and has not made any payments for fiscal year 2013, amounting to about $710,000 in unrestricted funds.”
In program related news, Trustees approved a joint educational agreement with Blackhawk Technical College in southern Wisconsin. When approved by the State of Wisconsin, the agreement will allow students from Blackhawk’s district to complete specific programs at Highland’s in-district tuition rate. As part of the reciprocal agreement, students in Highland’s district would also be able to pursue programs at BTC which are not currently available at HCC at Blackhawk’s in-district tuition rate.
“We are excited about this agreement,” said Associate Vice President of Student Services Liz Gerber. “Given our proximity and transfer program offerings, we have had a good number of residents from Blackhawk’s district coming to Highland in recent years. This allows them to do so at a more affordable tuition rate. In turn, residents of our District will have access to several occupational programs at BTC that Highland doesn’t offer.”
Gerber also emphasized that while the BTC District Board approved the agreement earlier this month, it must also be approved by the Wisconsin state system before it can go into effect.
In other news, trustees approved:
• the list of part-time/overload instructors to teach during the Fall semester
• a request for the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) to assign a status of “Recognition Continued”. This is a requirement for an upcoming ICCB recognition review
• the second reading of the Policy on Policies
• revised job description for Coordinator, Academic Technology Resources (formerly Coordinator, Instructional Technology) and Coordinator, Learning Services
• the elimination of positions of Director, Upward Bound, and Coordinator, Student Programming caused by the lack of continued federal grant funding