While Triton College is celebrating 50 years of existence, the college's board of trustees is hoping to complete another feat: performing 10 years of renovation projects over a three-year period, all without raising property taxes.
On July 8, Triton held a community meeting at Riverside-Brookfield High School to present the college's construction needs as well as describe how the projects can be successfully completed.
Each year, Triton allocates funds for various rehabilitation projects, including classroom updates, landscaping needs and more. The college wants to get the projects done soon, because they say the aging facilities struggle to meet modern needs and growing student population. Also, the board wishes to capitalize on today's low interest rates for bonds.
In order for Triton to continue to serve the growing needs of the community for the next 50 years, the board has proposed a plan that includes utilizing existing budget dollars set aside for renovation projects and issuing alternative revenue bonds in the amount of $50 million.
Some basic renovations with the bonds include updated windows, classroom furniture and instructional equipment. Larger projects include upgrades to the Cernan Earth and Space Center, Cox Auditorium, Career Center, Fitness Center, Health & Sciences and Kitchen facilities, Student Center and Child Development Center.
Triton hopes to retire the balance of the bonds over a 20-year period with annual repayment of roughly $3.6 million. The bond proceeds must be expended within three years.
According to Garrick Abezetian, associate vice president of finance at Triton College, the revenue being pledged to pay the debt service will be the money the college receives annually from the Illinois Community College Board for tuition reimbursement.
Abezetian said the college receives about $7.2 million annually from the ICCB. In addition, the college takes in $23 million annually in tuition from students.
"That's $30 million annually," said Abezetian said. "It's a very safe, identifyable item to back this up with."
Tuition rates will not rise as a result of the bond issue, according to officials.
"It's not going to change the way things have operated," said Abezetian.
At the board of trustees' Sept. 23 meeting, school board members will vote to approve the bonds.
The plan discussed July 8 did not address the proposed shared gun range/law enforcement training facility that has been floated by local mayors.
That money would come from funds kicked in by local communities, the school has said.
Triton College serves Oak Park, River Forest and other communities up and down the Desplaines River.
Triton will be holding one more informational meeting for the community about the bonds and desired projects at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St. in Oak Park, on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
Bob Uphues contributed to this report.
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