COD studying possible tax, tuition cuts, Hamilton says
College of DuPage officials are delaying a vote on their proposed budget to give them time to consider several financial issues, including the possibility of reducing tuition and cutting or abating taxes.
The COD board of trustees originally was expected to approve a spending plan before the next fiscal year begins July 1. But with trustees working to implement reforms in the wake of controversies at the Glen Ellyn-based community college, board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton said a decision was made to "hold back" both the budget and the strategic plan.
"We are putting in changes that actually change the strategic direction of the college," Hamilton said during a meeting this week with the Daily Herald's Editorial Board.
Hamilton said officials are considering plans to possibly reduce taxes, reduce tuition and abate taxes.
"I'm not saying that we're doing those," Hamilton said. "We're looking at doing those."
Among the scenarios being studied -- and Hamilton stressed these are just possibilities -- are to reduce tuition by $5 a credit hour and to reduce the property tax levy by 5 percent.
Before the April election, where three Hamilton-backed candidates shifted the balance of power on the seven-member board, the previous board voted to keep tuition at $140 per credit hour for in-district students. That amount includes fees.
Illinois students coming from outside the district pay $327 per credit hour.
During the tuition vote in February, Hamilton argued the college could "easily" reduce tuition because it has a healthy reserve fund.
"Consider a cut, really," Hamilton said at the time. "Your tuition and tax hikes have insulted taxpayers and students."
This week, Hamilton said she believes the board needs to take a new approach.
"Instead of doing what we're doing right now -- we're accumulating cash year after year -- I think we need to take a clearer look at that by instituting some studies and understanding exactly where the community is going in terms of its educational needs," she said.
A committee is working on the budget, officials said, and will review any proposals to revise the spending plan before sending it to the board for a final vote.
In the meantime, the board approved a spending resolution on Thursday night that allows the college to operate under its existing budget beyond July 1. As a result, the board will have until Sept. 30 to pass the new budget.
A significant portion of COD's roughly $181 million operating budget comes from property taxes. Salaries and benefits make up about 72 percent of the expenses in the college's operating budget.