Heartland Community College Board Members Address Business Needs, Property Tax Concerns | WGLT

Heartland Community College Board Members Address Business Needs, Property Tax Concerns

Mar 28, 2019

Two candidates for a seat on the Heartland Community College Board both said they want to be careful to keep property taxes as low as possible, as did a third who is running uncontested.

Incumbent Pat Hardesty said during Thursday's McLean County League of Women Voters forum that he believes the board has done that in the face of great difficulty.

"Until the state of Illinois changes the way they fund education dramatically, we really don't have any control over it except the property taxes," said Hardesty.

Hardesty said most property tax revenue growth has come from increases in land values. He said the state, the federal government, and the local district are each supposed to pay a third of the cost of the community college. Hardesty said the state pays nowhere near that share.

Heartland Community College board candidate Lupe Diaz speaks during Thursday's forum.
Credit Amy Niebur / WGLT

Hardesty's opponent Lupe Diaz said the college should look for other revenue.

"My thing is, have we looked at you know, people in the private sector, people that would have no problem funding something on campus, you know give them naming rights to the building," said Diaz.

The two are running for a two-year unexpired term. Uncontested incumbent board member Jeff Flessner also participated in the forum, though several other uncontested candidates did not.

Diaz and Hardesty also offered different focuses on a question of what new program the college in Normal should create or existing one

Diaz said Heartland should expand what it already offers.

"And potentially look at other things. You know, reach out to high school students to see what they are looking for that we are not offering," said Diaz.

Diaz's opponent, Hardesty, said Heartland should reach out to businesses in the manufacturing base to gauge what future demand will be.

"Robotics is going to play a big part in it as it comes to the forefront. The construction trades; there are more technical advances every day in those industries also, that further and continuing education is needed," said Hardesty.

Hardesty said Heartland has already been good at consulting business needs for workforce development in underserved sectors such as truck driving and physical therapy.

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