In a somewhat unusual development, the Civic Federation
has some awfully nice things to say about a public agency, in this case praising the 2014 budget proposed by City Colleges of Chicago.
In a report released today
, the taxpayer watchdog group says the agency "has consistently shown commendable fiscal restraint and a commitment to implementing strong financial management practices."
The federation doesn't use language like that very often, but it says it sees a lot to like in the $657 million spending plan, which is up just 0.3 percent from last year.
Spending in unrestricted operating accounts — "the portion over which the district has the most control" — is down 6.9 percent, or $21.1 million from last year, the federation says. Property taxes are frozen for the fourth year in a row and the system has an unrestricted fund balance equal to about 21 percent of annual operating expenses, even though its student population is rising.
Better yet, says the federation, City Colleges is setting aside $1 million to pay pension costs that now are funded by the state. Legislation in Springfield would require such a move by public colleges and grade and high schools statewide, but the legislation has not yet passed. ...