College of DuPage holds line on property taxes
College of DuPage will ask for less property tax money next year, despite uncertainty about how much funding it will receive from the state.
The board of trustees agreed to seek $81.7 million in property tax dollars to help pay the Glen Ellyn-based college's operating expenses for the rest of fiscal year 2018, which started July 1, and the first half of fiscal 2019.
The amount is roughly $900,000 more than what the school requested last year for operations.
But COD will receive roughly $3 million less in property taxes to pay off its debt. The new levy request for debt service is $22.5 million.
As a result, the college next year is projected to collect a total of $104.2 million in property taxes -- an overall decrease of about $2.1 million from this year.
On Monday, board Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi said officials want to do as much as they can to educate students "without going to the taxpayers and asking for more and more increases."
This year, DuPage residents with homes valued at $300,000 paid about $262 in property taxes to the college, according to the county clerk's office.
COD trustees refused to raise property taxes even though the college isn't expected to get full financial support from the state. Under normal circumstances, the school's operating budget would include roughly $13 million in state funding, but COD officials expect to get only half that.
"We've still managed to do just fine through sound budgeting and being very careful where those tax dollars are getting spent," Mazzochi said. "We also are very lucky in that we're sitting on an incredibly generous tax base as it is."
When trustees approved COD's fiscal 2018 budget earlier this year, they based the spending plan on the premise that the tuition rate and operating tax levy would remain steady.
Tuition at the state's largest community college remains at $135 per credit hour, including fees, for in-district students through summer 2018. Illinois students coming from outside the district will continue paying $322 per credit hour.
Meanwhile, officials say the school is in a strong financial position with a $216 million reserve fund, which includes $92 million in unrestricted cash.
"While there remains uncertainty regarding state funding, this administration is carefully planning for the future and balancing this with the needs of our students and the community members served by College of DuPage," said Brian Caputo, vice president of administration and treasurer.
Mazzochi said the school hasn't needed to dip into its reserve cash to help pay for operations. "We are not looking to do any major deficit spending," she said.