MCC Trustees Vote for Flat Budget

By a 4-3 vote, the newly-elected McHenry County College Board members, plus the man they elected Board President, outvoted the longer term Trustees.

MCC Bd 8-22-13

“If we don’t vote to approve [the lower] alternative budget, we have lost the chance to give a signal from the college,” Board President Ron Parrish said.

Chief Financial Officer Bob Tenuta carried water for those who sought to maximize property tax revenue for MCC.

He proposed taking the maximum amount allowed under the Tax Cap—1.7%–plus new construction, which he estimated will be measured at 1.1% during the calendar yer 2012.

Molly Walsh moved to accept the budget that would not increase real estate taxes.

“With no increase, flat?” holdover member Linda Liddell asked.

“Yes,” Walsh replied.

Then Tenuta explained a handout which was not shared with the audience either in hard copy or as a slide show.

He warned of the cumulative effect of not taking the maximum amount allowed by the Tax Cap.

“If we don’t look at cost cuts, we have to theoretically look at tuition [increases].

“Tuition cannot be more than one-third of per capita cost,” President Vicky Smith interjected.

Without considering cuts in expenses and assuming no growth in student enrollment, Tenuta estimated that tuition would have to rise to just below the maximum amount allowed by the state.

That is 33% of the cost of the education.

[Virtually no one knows that the promotional material for the 1968 referendum that authorized the college said that the student share would be one-third of the cost.]

Walsh pointed out that the level enrollment assumption was at odds with presentations that had been made to the Board.

Tenuta repeated the mantra of those wanting to maximize the college’s property tax revenue:

“We lose it forever.”

Tenuta pointed out that MCC has the 29th lowest property tax rate.

Discussion of the proper level of fund balances brought an explanation from Smith that other colleges were at 25-40%.

When asked, Tenuta told the Board that MCC’s fund balances were “about 40%.”

Cynthia Kisser pointed out that the vote concerned the budget, not the levy, which sets the amount of property taxes to be requested.

She and Tenuta explained that having a budget too high did not mean that the levy could not request less money than the budget authorized could be spent.

“It’s a lot easier to reduce the budget [than to raise it],” the man who would have to made the budget adjustments said.

Walsh contended that she preferred “truth in budgeting” that would reflect “we want to have a flat budget.”

“You have to be honest.

“You do a very conservative number on enrollment and you do a very liberal number on revenue,” she continued.

Parish asked the percentage of total expenditures the forgone revenue would represent.

“About 1%,” was the Chief Financial Officer’s reply.

Immediate Past Board President Mary Miller repeated the refrain that not taking the maximum allowed real estate tax revenue would result in its being lost forever.

“You will never get that…That is missed revenue. The next year you lose it again. It’s gone for eternity.

“My fiduciary responsibility is to make sure this college is [fiscally sound].”

Kisser pointed out that both budgets were identical with regard to day-to-day operations.

The difference was in the amount transferred from one fund to another, the CFO pointed out.

He explained that PMA Financial, a college consultant, estimated that increase Equalized Assessed Valuation would be 3%. PMA was hired after Smith became President.

When the vote was taken the coalition that put Parrish in office was unified.

Walsh, Chris Jenner, Tom Wilbeck and Parrish voted for the flat budget.

Cynthia Kisser, Linda Liddel and Mary Miller voted against putting that budget on display.


Comments

MCC Trustees Vote for Flat Budget — 3 Comments

  1. Thank you Walsh, Chris Jenner, Tom Wilbeck and Parrish. Please continue your work to increase transparency, use truthful analytics for budgets to meet established goals, and truly work for the students now and the ones who hopefully stay in our county communities to be our citizens in the future.

  2. Well done, Wilbeck, Jenner, Parrish & Walsh.

    A flat budget is a good first step.

    With that done, I can think of nothing more important over the next year than to go over the budget with a fine tooth comb, examining the bureaucracy for inefficiencies and lack of productivity and examining every vocational program to determine if the benefit to the community (i.e., sufficient numbers of students graduating and getting jobs that pay well) is commensurate with the cost to the community.

    You will have to do this on your own because the current administration will obstruct you at every step of the way.

    And please remind the holdovers that their title IS “trustee”, which means they have a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of that trust: the taxpayers, the community and the students.

    When you have done all these things, then please address the absolutely abysmal 17% graduation rate. The past boards blithely ignored this issue, to their shame.

    Despite what the current administration and the holdovers seem to believe, high enrollment is NOT a goal in and of itself. To accept this as a goal is to VIOLATE that trust, to VIOLATE the responsibilities they accepted when they ran for office.

    A high number of transient students who take a class here and there but never attain the skills and certifications necessary for a better job, students who NEVER graduate — THIS I say, is not only wasting the taxpayers’ money, worse, it is cheating the students who rely in good faith on the school for guidance.

    We rightly condemn private schools that lure students just for the tuition, but MCC makes this their explicit goal!

    It’s time for people with this mindset to move on.

    That specifically means the current administration.

    I have never seen appointed officials so obviously, so strenuously and so blatantly refuse to do what the board majority tells them to do: to refuse to examine the budget for places to save money, to refuse to present alternatives, to refuse to present data requested by the trustees (not to mention the public)!

    No private company would put up with staff that acts in this obstructionist fashion, that flat out refuses to obey orders. In any private company, such people would be fired.

    As ought to happen at MCC.

    So I say again, a good first step, new board majority! Now, please, finish the job. If you do so — and I know you will — I pledge my support to help you increase your majority in 2015 and in 2017; I pledge a clean sweep.

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