The Schenectady County Legislature approved Schenectady County Community College's operating budget but without additional money from the county at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 14.
Schenectady County is the official sponsor of the college, which means it provides a percentage of the college's funding. According to college President Gabriel Basil, the county's contribution accounts for 9 percent of the college's operating budget. This year, SCCC asked for an additional $150,000, which the county declined to provide because it has been a difficult year financially.
Commissioner of Finance George Davidson recommended that the college impose a vehicle registration fee of $35 per semester to offset the needed $150,000. Hudson Valley Community College imposes a vehicle registration fee of $86 per semester.
Basil said he would not impose a vehicle registration fee because he didn't want to put a burden on the students.
We have already increased student tuition, and it is more than enough, Basil said. "We don't want to hit them up again."
This year SCCC raised its full-time tuition rates by $70 to $2,890 per semester and increased part-time tuition rates by $6 per credit hour to $117.
Basil said the college intends to use a portion of its fund balance, which is supposed to be saved for emergencies, and look for other revenue sources to offset the $150,000.
According to the memo from Davidson, out of 30 community colleges in the SUNY system, SCCC has the 27th lowest tuition rates and has the sixth highest fund balance as a percentage of operating costs.
According to Davidson, SCCC will have $1.8 million in its fund balance at the end of this fiscal year. Basil said colleges like to operate with a fund balance that is one month's worth of operating expenses in case something goes wrong, and once the college dips into its fund balance this year it will be teetering on the edge of that.
"If this becomes a trend, we'll have a problem," Basil said.
According to Schenectady County Legislator Vincent Dicerbo, D-Schenectady, the Legislature agreed in 2000 to increase its contribution to the community college by $100,000 for the next 10 years. Dicerbo said after 2001, the county could not afford to keep its promise and has only increased its contribution three times in the last 10 years.
At the legislature's meeting, Dicerbo, who is also a college trustee, said he supported the college's budget but hoped the legislature would be able to increase its contribution in the coming years.