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State

Review: University of Illinois finances have improved

URBANA (AP) – The University of Illinois has brought in about $300 million a year more than it has spent since 2010, but has put off more than a billion dollars in maintenance, according to a new review of the schools’ finances.

The university has enough cash on hand to address some of the maintenance needs, as well as contribute to a potential supplemental retirement plan for employees, according to the review by accounting lecturer and Academic Senate budget committee chairman Mike Sandretto. He presented his findings to the Senate Monday.

“Overall, we’re in pretty good shape – not great, but not terrible,” he said.

Sandretto found that the university had net income of $300 million or more in every year between 2010 and 2013.

That followed several years of losing money that led to cost-cutting efforts, including putting off maintenance. He estimated the maintenance backlog now at up to $1.8 billion for the university’s three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

Now, the school has about $1.8 billion in cash on hand, of which he said it could afford to spend about $700 million.

That money could be used to help take care of some of the maintenance, add faculty that Urbana-Champaign campus Chancellor Phyllis Wise has said she plans to hire, and help finance the supplemental retirement plan the university has said it is considering, according to the review. The retirement plan would help make up for money employees lose to pension reform plans passed by the Illinois General Assembly.

The Senate agreed on a resolution supporting the idea of a supplemental retirement plan and urged university administrators to move quickly to adopt one.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to the board of trustees on what they want this to exactly look like,” finance Professor Jeff Brown said at the meeting.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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