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COD to use reserve funds to cover budget deficit

The College of DuPage Board of Trustees has decided to cover the deficit in its next budget by dipping into the school’s reserve funds.

The fiscal year 2014 budget approved Thursday night is unchanged from the original draft budget presented in May. It drew praise from COD board member Dianne McGuire, who also praised the other budgets she has reviewed in her years on the board. “This one’s even more comprehensive,” she said.

Total revenues for the school’s operating budget increased 3.8 percent to $172.3 million under the budget. However, the added revenue was outpaced by additional expenses of 4.1 percent, or $174.8 million.

Not even the $4 per credit hour increase in tuition to begin in the fall could cover the $2.5 million deficit, which the college is paying for out of its cash reserves.

One cause for the shortfall is the continuing budget woes of the state of Illinois, board members said.

College officials estimate that the aid received from the state will be about $12.3 million during the course of the coming year, down about $650,000 from the previous year.

Salaries are up 3.55 percent, and employee benefits shot up 14 percent, board members said.

The future may hold significant financial challenges for the college, not the least of which is a possible $22 million in additional pension costs, college officials said. Currently, the state picks up the employer’s share of the costs for public school teachers and faculty of community colleges. But with the state’s own pensions being unfunded to the tune of about $100 billion, many in the General Assembly are looking to shift costs to local school districts.

COD Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen noted that the school was unlikely to get much help from the state.

“As long as we look to Springfield to solve the problem, there will never be a solution,” he said.

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