Lawmakers support 3% increase in Suffolk funding for SCCC
Suffolk lawmakers approved a 3% increase in county funding for Suffolk County Community College for the 2021-2022 school year, rejecting County Executive Steve Bellone’s recommendation for an increase of 1.5%.
The Suffolk legislature voted 17 to 1 to provide the college with $ 46.12 million next year, an increase of $ 1.34 million, according to the Legislative Budget Review Office.
Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) voted no.
Bellone had recommended an increase of $ 671,691.
The CCS budget proposal of $ 212.2 million would increase spending by $ 13 million over the estimated spending for 2020-2021.
The budget plan would freeze tuition for full-time students at $ 5,470 for the second year in a row, even with declining enrollment and higher costs expected to return to classes on campus.
“The increase in financial resources is an investment in the continued success of our students, allowing the college board to freeze tuition fees for the second year in a row and pay for our employment contracts,” said the president acting of Louis Petrizzo college in a press release after the legislature. vote.
Bellone had recommended a 1.5% increase in the county’s contribution based on a 2017 report that recommended the county increase its contribution by that percentage each year for five years.
The report of a committee made up of Bellone administration officials, county lawmakers and SCCC officials said a larger county contribution would be “unsustainable.”
Bellone spokesman Derek Poppe said on Wednesday the administration was “revising” the college budget as approved by the legislature.
Legislative Assembly Speaker Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) said county lawmakers want the college to have enough resources to “continue to do the great job it does for students,” especially since the new college president and native of Setauket, Edward Bonahue, is expected to start the job. Monday.
Calarco noted that SCCC did not ask for any increase in county funding last year, when Suffolk budget officials predicted the county would face an $ 800 million deficit over two years.
âWhat really happened was that the community college last year, when we were in the middle of the pandemic and really had no idea what was going to happen, agreed to take a zero raise. â¦ And he still froze tuition fees for students and pledged to freeze tuition fees for students this year, âCalarco said.
The county can afford a higher contribution this year because it is in a “much stronger position than we were” in 2020, Calarco said.
Budget officials predicted the county could have a surplus of at least $ 490 million by the end of 2022 due to an influx of federal pandemic aid and higher than expected tax revenues .
Suffolk County funds 22% of the college budget each year and the state 23%. Most of the rest comes from tuition, fees and grants, according to the Legislative Budget Office.
College officials said they have requested more funding from the county because they expect to lose revenue due to a further 5.4% drop in full-time enrollment.
Full-time enrollments have declined by around 30% since 2010 as more students have chosen to attend school part-time or attend four-year colleges, officials said.
SCCC officials also anticipate higher costs due to the increase in contract staff and the increase in in-person classes, which will likely require more staff.