BOT approve $327M capital budget, $15.1M operating increase

Multiple budget items were met with approval by the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees on Friday, including operating and capital budgets for the 2015 fiscal year and the 2013-14 all-funds budget.

Trustees OK'd a planned $327 million capital budget for new construction and renovations on the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses, as well as a $15.1 million­­ operating increase for FY '15. The board also accepted an 2013-14 all-funds budget of $241.6 million, which the university is currently utilizing.

"So that's our bread and butter right now," Budget Director Matt Bierman said of the all-funds after Friday's meeting. "The other two — the operating request and the capital request — are for FY '15, so that's projecting out a year in advance … We are required to do that and send that to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. They are three very separate things, but each have their own priorities."

The all-funds budget is also presented to the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn.

Western's current, FY '14 appropriated budget is $127.6 million.

Included in the proposed budget is $5 million for salary and cost increases, $2 million for deferred maintenance, $5 million for operation of the Quad Cities campus and $1.5 million for student financial aid.

The $327 million FY '15 capital budget — funding would come from the state's capital construction budget — approved by trustees on Friday entailed recommendations for new buildings and other construction, including a science complex, visual arts center and education building on the Macomb campus, phase three of the Quad Cities Riverfront Campus construction, and a remodeling of Stipes Hall.

Additionally, trustees approved $10.8 million in capital renewal funds for critical deferred maintenance. WIU's total deferred maintenance and capital renew backlog is now more than $500 million, according to a university news release.

From the state

In all, the university will request a little over $67 million from the state for the FY '15 budget. The university received $52 million this year.

Bierman said it's important for the state to know WIU's priorities and needs.

"We know that's a lot to ask, but we also need to make sure the state knows our priorities and what we need as a public institution," the director said. "We're hopeful, but we plan for level funding at this point … It would not be smart to plan for anything more than that."

Currently, WIU is waiting on $6.6 million in state appropriations for the 2013 fiscal year and $19.3 million for the current fiscal year. The university is also still waiting on $5.5 million Monetary Award Program grant funding for the current fiscal year.

Jeanette Malafa is an assistant to WIU President Jack Thomas for governmental relations. She said her work will begin in the spring, as the General Assembly is currently in the veto session.

"We won't focus on it too much too in veto session, but come spring, as always, we will be asking for at least level funding and of course trying to get funds released for the Performing Arts Center," she said. "That's always on the top of my agenda. We're hoping and waiting that it gets released soon."

The design work on the long-awaited, $71.8 million Performing Arts Center has been completed, but the university it waiting on Quinn to sell the capital construction bonds necessary to pay for construction projects around the state.