WIU to receive $3M state funding bump, facing high deferred maintenance cost

The budget includes vast spending increases in higher education such as $701 million total in student aid.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 4:47 PM CDT
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MACOMB (WGEM) - The new fiscal year’s budget goes into effect on July 1. Right now it only awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature.

The budget includes vast spending increases in higher education such as $701 million total in student aid. Western Illinois University is set to receive a 7% budget increase from last fiscal year for a total of $55.7 million.

WIU’s Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Shannon Sutton said they’re grateful for the increase.

”Inflation has increased significantly so our costs have increased, so the differential in the amount that we’ll be getting will be used to cover some of those inflationary costs as well as some student programs and personnel,” Sutton said.

While it is an increase, Sutton said it brings the university to the same funding they were given in FY12. Over the past 10 years she said funding has either dipped or remained the same. In FY13 it dropped to $52.1 million.

One thing the budget does not address, she said, is deferred maintenance. Currently, WIU faces around $500 million in that category.

“We’re in a crisis mode,” Sutton said.

Before this past school year started, WIU announced Tillman Hall, one of the largest buildings on the main quad, would go offline, not having any classes or academic activities.

Executive Director of Facilities Management Troy Rhoads said no decisions have been made on the fate of the building.

“We will keep it up as far as we’re going to do the best we can to ventilate it so that it doesn’t come into a state of disrepair,” Rhoads said.

This summer the university is making roughly $24 million worth of deferred maintenance upgrades. That includes a chilled water loop behind Sherman Hall, roof work on several buildings along with other infrastructure work.

“We’re seeing a lot of those items are hitting that apex where not just a roof needs replaced or not just a chiller or an air handler needs replaced, but entire structures need to be rehabilitated,” Rhoads said.

Full renovations on Tillman Hall alone would cost WIU $30 million. The building is in need of new windows, doors, masonry and isn’t ADA compliant.

Rhoads said they receive funding for deferred maintenance through the Illinois Board of Higher Education, but it isn’t always guaranteed.

During Gov. Pritzker’s visit to John Wood Community College on Monday he said he plans to sign the budget within the next two weeks.

The state’s funding accounts for about 25% of WIU’s budget.


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