JOLIET – The challenges facing Joliet Junior College became apparent as two trustees bristled at each other and several residents criticized the college’s spending.
The board approved the fiscal 2018 budget in a 7-1 vote, with Trustee Alicia Morales voting against it.
The budget has an operating revenue of $91.4 million, a 2.8 percent increase over last year and reflects sinking state support that is estimated to make up only 5 percent of the college’s revenue.
The budget also projects no enrollment growth and includes a $19 student tuition increase, of which $16 is due to the absence of state funding, JJC officials said.
JJC President Judy Mitchell said the college has been reducing millions in costs since 2011 and achieved additional savings through course scheduling.
“Although we have faced challenges for the past several years, we will continue to be proactive and collaborative on our cost reduction initiatives to help reduce the financial burden for our students,” Mitchell said.
During public comment on the budget, several audience members were critical of the college’s spending while raising tuition in response to the state budget crisis.
Student David Kevish said the board seems to be doing “business as usual” and criticized what the college was spending on furniture for the Romeoville campus after hiking tuition.
“That we can just continue going about business as usual is just kind of disappointing,” he said.
Drew Duzinskas, a former student trustee and alumnus, also criticized the college’s spending but also expressed disappointment with the poor decorum among trustees. Morales and Trustees Maureen Broderick quarreled at times throughout the meeting.
Broderick made a motion for discussion on agenda items to be limited to one speech per trustee for no more than two minutes.
Board President Robert Wunderlich said the board could follow Broderick’s motion, but Morales disagreed with it, saying it was ridiculous for the board to allow discussions to be limited.
Broderick accused Morales of micromanaging but Morales said asking questions about the budget was not micromanaging. Morales had pulled several items from the board’s agenda for questions.