November 29, 2017

CARTERVILLE — It’s an annual decision that directly affects every household and business in the College district.

The decision? How much to levy in taxes.

Behind strong financial management and leadership over the past year, the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees Tuesday night voted for no tax levy rate increase at all.

A decision that might surprise some, especially after the College weathered an unprecedented two-year state budget impasse that left many publicly-funded institutions reeling financially.

Putting the state’s financial shortcoming completely on the backs of local taxpayers didn’t seem to be an option to Glenn Poshard and Cheryl Graff — members of the College’s board of trustees who serve on the College’s budget and finance committee — so they joined with Brad McCormick, the College’s chief financial officer, to find ways to keep taxpayers from carrying the burden.

“Striking the balance between keeping taxes low and still providing enough resources to produce a quality education is not an easy balance to find,” McCormick explained, “especially on the heels of a two-year budget impasse which ended not more than five months ago.”

But intense meetings led to “smart (financial) planning,” McCormick said. Plans the board of trustees acted on which led a decision not to burden home and business owners with more taxes.

A big part of that planning included the refinancing of some outstanding bonds, taking advantage of lower interest rates. Because of this, McCormick explained, the College is actually better positioned for the possibility of more state budget delays in 2018.

“How are we in this position? Simply because of the wisdom of the budget and finance committee,” McCormick said. “Glenn Poshard and Cheryl Graff believed there was a way and we worked until we found it by recommending to the full board of trustees the inclusion of $5.4 million in working cash bonds with the refinancing actions taken last year.”

After two extremely difficult years brought about by the state’s budget impasse, the College was still able to strengthen its capacity to manage its cash flow and at the same time do it in such a way that property owners across the College’s five-county district are not saddled with a tax increase from the College.

McCormick made it clear by explaining that if someone did see a tax increase it was only due to an increase in a home or business owner’s property value which the College does not control or have any input in.

Local taxes provide 25 percent of the College’s general revenues for the 2018 budget.