The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees voted to approve a resolution allowing the use of auxiliary facilities system revenue to fund operations at the university. The university is $87 million in debt, according to budget director Matt Bierman, as the state’s budget impasse nears its eleventh month.
Bierman emphasized no funds were officially transferred today, but the board gave the university authorization to use these auxiliary funds to operate when the university exhausts other funding.
“This is the funds that support our auxiliary facilities, which includes university housing and dining, campus recreation, and the university union,” Bierman said. “Those facilities were not funded by the state. They were funded by selling tax-exempt bonds to build those and maintain those facilities.”
Bierman said there is somewhere between $20 and $30 million in auxiliary funds available right now. Currently, the university is operating on “other funds” because it has depleted all tuition dollars and reserves. He believes the university will have to begin the process of dipping into the auxiliary funds in the next 30 days if no state budget is passed.
There are penalties associated with using these auxiliary funds. Because the funds are restricted, disclosures will have to be made upon using them.
“We have the authorization now to dip into those funds if that is necessary,” Bierman said. “Once we do that we’ll have 10 days to disclose that to our bond holders, so that’s one of the ramifications.”
WIU President Jack Thomas said he remains hopeful the state will pass a budget. He is traveling to Springfield tomorrow, April 21, to talk about the effect the state budget crisis has had on WIU with the Higher Education Committee.
Thomas also said he is confident the doors at WIU will remain open.
“We are the economic engine here in west-central Illinois region, so these are things that we have to do, but hopefully this will have an impact in Springfield where individuals see the major effect that this is having on all of our universities and higher-education in general.”