A task force recommends Heartland Community College keep its tax rates stable and maintain strong cash reserves to ensure long-term financial stability.
President Keith Cornille said the school already keeps its reserve funds in a healthy range, but putting it in a formal policy could help the school boost its credit rating. That would lower the school's cost to borrow money.
“This will help with regard to the operating funds as they are perceived by the Standard & Poor’s,” Cornille said. “It can’t hurt us because they did provide feedback that indicated that having a policy would help strengthen our position as well as increasing our reserves.”
Cornille said the school is building reserves beyond 50% of its operating fund. The task force recommends the board maintain operating fund reserves of between 40% and 60% of its operating expenses.
The school currently has a AA+ credit rating.
Cornille said having a sustainable financial plan will help school assess its future program and facility needs as it begins developing a long-term facilities master plan.
“We needed to do this work first, get our financial house in order, which it was and always has been, but give us a better view of what it would look like three or five years down the road,” he said.
While the task force recommends Heartland not raise property taxes, it's still looking into whether it should increase tuition and student fees.
Cornille said the panel plans to add two students before addressing that.
“We need student representation on the team as we are talking about tuition and we did not have that,” Cornille said.
Heartland has raised tuition each of the last five years. The school raised tuition $8 per credit hour earlier this year, but it cut student fees $3 per credit hour.
The panel plans to present final recommendations to the board before Dec. 1.
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