College of DuPage seeks to keep property taxes flat

College of DuPage officials plan to hold the line on property taxes, despite declining enrollment and a multimillion dollar deficit in the school's next budget.

School trustees are slated to vote next month on a $319.9 million spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The proposed document calls for $155.4 million in expenditures in the education fund, which is the Glen Ellyn-based college's primary operating fund.

Proposed expenses in the education fund exceed revenues by $4.2 million, in part, because COD isn't expected to get full financial support from the state.

Under normal circumstances, the operating budget would include roughly $13 million in state funding, but COD officials only expect to get half that next year.

"If 100 percent of the state grant comes in - even on paper - then we go into the positive," said Brian Caputo, COD's vice president of administration and treasurer.

Regardless of the state funding, officials have decided to freeze the school's tax levy for another year. They also agreed to keep tuition at $135 per credit hour for in-district students. That amount includes fees.

Illinois students coming from outside the district to attend COD will continue paying $322 per credit hour.

"We're trying to keep control over the budget and be fiscally responsible while also being very mindful of our students and the taxpayers," COD board Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi said. "The taxpayers feel tapped out. The students feel tapped out."

This year, DuPage residents with homes valued at $300,000 are paying about $262 in property taxes to the college, according to the county clerk's office. COD is projected to collect $105.7 million in local property taxes during the next fiscal year.

A 2 percent decline in enrollment is expected to cause revenue from student tuition and fees to drop by roughly $6 million next year to $89.8 million.

Even with the loss of revenue, officials say COD is in a strong financial position with healthy cash reserves. The school is projected to end fiscal 2018 with roughly $224 million.

During the coming fiscal year, the school is planning to spend $11 million on construction projects, including a $1.2 million enhancement of the Jack H. Turner Conference Center.

Other planned expenditures include $4.8 million for an information technology plan, $650,000 for employee professional development, $200,000 for the Lakeside Pavilion concert series and $200,000 to modernize the school's website.

The school also is planning to add seven full-time and part-time jobs after eliminating seven administrative positions. The number of full-time faculty positions will remain at 298.

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