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Local News

JJC anticipated to stay lean with next year's budget

Enrollment, tuition projected to be flat

JOLIET — Joliet Junior College officials say they continue to be fiscally conservative in the college's latest budget proposal.

Next week at a JJC board workshop meeting, trustees can ask questions about the budget before public comment and budget adoption in April, said Judy Mitchell, vice president of JJC Administrative Services.

The budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, projects no increases in tuition or enrollment, she said.

“We’re taking a conservative approach in order to be fiscally responsible,” Mitchell said.

She said the budget is projected to be balanced, with revenues and expenses at roughly $87 million. College officials said last year’s budget was balanced, as it has been for the past 42 years, but no enrollment growth was expected in 2015.

The college will reallocate existing resources to pay for any new initiatives and will not ask for new money, Mitchell said. The budget also projected no increase in health costs, she said.

Even though the college will again have flat enrollment, the college continues to work on recruiting and retaining students, she said.

“The college continues to support our students and identify ways to increase retention,” Mitchell said. “A focus this year is retention … student retention did go up in the past year. That was positive.”

The budget includes “realistic projections” for property taxes, with a 2.3 percent increase, she said.

Earlier this month, JJC Board members approved putting the fiscal year 2016 budget on public display. Mitchell said the budget is only at the draft stage at this point until the board considers it for final approval in April.

JJC Board President Andrew Mihelich said Thursday he was pleased with the budget, as it had no tuition increases. The college has met all contract obligations and made “tremendous strides” in lowering health care costs, he said.

“We’re pleased the initial indications coming out of Springfield is that state revenue to community colleges will be stable,” he said.

In February, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget called for no reductions in state funding to community colleges, which many officials with JJC and the Illinois Community College Board commended.

ICCB officials have said state funding for community colleges decreased annually from $316 million in 2010 to $283 million this year.

“We anticipated a decrease in state revenue, so we don’t know how that will hold true going through, but we’re starting off good,” Mihelich said. 

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