FREEPORT — The Highland Community College Board of Trustees approved the 2015 tax levy at its November 17 meeting. The annual levy is expected to provide $6.3 million in operating funds to support the District’s 2,400 full- and part-time students and related public services. The College’s anticipated property tax rate of 52 cents per $100 of assessed valuation is up from 49 cents from the previous year.
The levy was slightly increased from prior years, while taking into account any growth that may be seen in assessed valuation within the four-county District. This aims to ensure that the College meets the requirements needed to receive unrestricted state funding.
“This increase could translate to an additional $5 in property tax to a homeowner with a property value of $100,000,” said Highland’s vice president of administrative services, Jill Janssen.
Highland sets forth one levy for the tax year that is shared by the four counties served. The tax levy for 2015 includes things like the cost of the annual audit, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance and social security. The levy also includes a Protection, Health, and Safety project that will provide for improved air quality and efficiency of building and environmental heating and air conditioning controls in campus buildings.
According to Janssen, the actual dollars received are based on the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of the District, which is determined in June following the tax levy. If the EAV generates more taxes than the District levies, those dollars cannot be collected. Conversely, if the EAV generates fewer taxes than the District levies, the total amount levied will not be collected. It is typical for the District to receive less tax dollars than levied.
“One important source of unrestricted state funding (Equalization grant) is dependent on the District levying at 95 percent of the maximum rate in our Operating Funds,” Janssen said. “The District’s EAV decreased .001 percent from tax year 2013 to 2014, causing tax revenue to decrease.”
“State funding has decreased annually in recent years. From 2012 to 2015, Highland’s State funding has decreased by almost $300,000. As a result, the State of Illinois provided only 13 percent of the funding needed to support the College,” added Janssen. “The traditional model of the State providing one-third support of community colleges doesn’t hold true any longer.”
In addition to the tax levies, trustees approved the following at the November 17 meeting:
- the list of part-time instructors, overload, and other assignments;
- a first reading of new policy 4.40 – Student Worker Program;
- revised job descriptions for Dean, Humanities, Social Sciences and Fine Arts; Cafeteria Manager; revised job title and description for Manager, Math Achievement Center; and, new job description for Testing Center/Disability Services Specialist;
- the Statement of Final Construction Compliance for the campus-wide internet protocol security camera system project;
- two professional services agreements with Paragon Development Systems (PDS) for network and server/storage at a combined cost of $52,000.