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Local News

Funds frozen for Joliet Junior College City Campus project

JJC Board approves using other funds

JOLIET — State funds have been frozen for interior work to the downtown Joliet Junior College building, but college officials plan to continue paying for it. 

JJC officials learned last week that $10 million — of $25.5 million — promised for the City Center campus project by the state would be placed on hold by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, JJC Spokeswoman Kelly Rohder said. 

“We were very surprised by the news,” she said.

She said funding for capital projects for other community colleges also was frozen. 

In response, the JJC Board of Trustees approved a measure at its meeting Tuesday to use money earmarked for other projects — such as classroom upgrades and campus technology — for the interior work at the City Center building. 

“We can’t let the campus project stagnate, plain and simple,” Rohder said.

She said JJC will continue the downtown building construction work, but placing the money originally promised by the state on hold will have “critical consequences” for other capital projects. JJC had followed all requirements for the project, she said.

Rohder said JJC officials hope the $10 million will eventually be released and the college would be reimbursed for the project. 

Last year, exterior work on the 96,000-square-foot City Center building was completed. The building, located at Chicago and Clinton streets, will house the adult education and literacy department, workforce development and the culinary arts program. 

In an email statement, Catherine Kelly, Gov. Bruce Rauner's spokeswoman, wrote that Rauner inherited a fiscal crisis on his first day in office, and ordered a review of all state spending.

"The capital project at Joliet Junior College is frozen pending that review," she wrote.

Fiscal year 2016 budget

JJC board members also unanimously approved Tuesday the college's budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1. Rohder said there were no changes to the budget before final approval.

The budget is projected to be balanced, with revenues and expenses at about $87 million. 

The budget projects no increases in tuition or enrollment, as well as a 2.3 percent increase in property taxes. 

“It’s something we’re very proud of even in tough economic times,” Rohder said. “We’ve been able to do that while simultaneously being responsible to taxpayers and students.” 

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