Board of Trustees approve FY20 budget


Devon Greene/ Editor-in-chief

Board of Trustees Chair Polly Raddosh and Interim President approve FY20 budget

Devon Greene , editor-in-chief

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees met for a second day on Friday where they approved the 2020 fiscal year all funds budget. The Board also received multiple reports from various organizations from the Macomb and Quad-Cities campuses and discussed the status of the closed session meeting minutes that were in jeopardy of being destroyed.

The meeting opened once again, with public comments. Only two members of the community spoke this time. First up was Richard Filipink, a professor in the department of history. Filipink pleaded with the trustees to release the closed session minutes from the meetings that occured in 2015.

“I would like to ask, once again, as I have for the last two years, ask the Board to release the closed session minutes,” Filipink said. “Those closed session meetings happened now, four years ago and it has gone past the point of being unprecedented.”

Filipnik also requested that the recordings of those meetings not be destroyed.

“I would also like to ask the board to not destroy any of the recordings from any of the meetings that are listed today or going forward, to halt this practice entirely,” Filipink said. “Just because you’re allowed to do something, does not mean that you should do it. Just because something is legal, does not mean it is right. These records are going to be an invaluable source of what actually happened at this university. Over the course of the last couple of years, the minutes of these meetings have become less and less informational and less and less detailed, so those actual verbatim records are going to be crucial going forward. I would ask that the board deposit these recordings with the university library rather than see them destroyed.”

Union leader Bill Thompson came up next and echoed a lot of what Filipink covered. He requested that the minutes and recordings stay as intact as possible.

“UPI respectfully requests that the board do not destroy the verbatim records of the closed session meetings dated June 12, 2017, July 14, 2017, Sept. 28, 2017 and Dec. 14, 2017. The Board is not required to destroy the verbatim records.”

Thompson said that the people of Western and community deserved the truth, and that the closed session recordings are part of that truth.

“By doing so, you will be aiding, not intentionally, but aiding and abetting in a robbery, the robbery of the truth of what was said and done here, and why over the last four years. The attorney general is investigating violations of the Open Meetings Act by the previous board. Destroying these recordings may rob the attorney general of evidence of further violations. Additionally, destroying these records will mean destroying portions of these records that by rights, belong in the public records. Portions of these records have a high probability of belonging to the public, belonging to everyone in this room because conversations of college business were likely had at these meetings. Destroying those records would rob the public of information it has a right to know.”

The board discussed the budget before going on to the minutes and received the proposed budget presentation from Budget Director Letish Trepac.

Trepac presented the budget which amounted to $210.6 million for the fiscal year 2020. This budget is significantly less than the fiscal year 2019’s budget which amassed to $224.3 million.

“The overall reduction of the amount stems from a $15.5 million reduction in the combined state appropriated and university income budget expense as well as a $7.1 million reduction in our restricted auxiliary facilities system budget expense.” Trepac said.

The budget was passes with unanimous approval by the board.

When the board got to a resolution dealing with the closed session minutes, they had the opportunity to either keep or destroy the recordings. The untouched motion included a paragraph where if it were to be approved, would destroy the verbatim record of the closed meetings.

“The verbatim records of the closed session meetings dated June 12, 2017, July 14, 2017 September 28, 2017 and December 14, 2017 are hereby approved for destruction.”

Chairperson Polly Radosh called a motion to strike the paragraph and it was unanimously approved by the members of the board. The status of these recordings still remain confidential until further notice.

However, recordings from the meetings that took place on March 22, 2018, April 30, 2018, May 18, 2018, June 7, 2019 and July 12, 2019 were voted on by the board to be released in their redacted format. The release was approved unanimously.

Other noteworthy items on the agenda were the election of various board positions due to the vacation of previous trustees. Justin Brown, the Student Member of the Board and longest tenured member of the Board of Trustees, was elected Board Secretary. Doug Shaw was elected Vice Chair. The last position to be filled was a place on the Civil Service Merit Board. This position was filled by Kisha M.J. Lang after being nominated by new board member Carin Stutz.