North Country Community College requires Essex and Franklin counties to approve their budget. Essex County lawmakers signed off on Monday, July 7. Franklin County is scheduled to pull the trigger on July 17.
ELIZABETHTOWN — North Country Community College received passing marks from Essex County on Monday, July 7 when lawmakers approved the institution’s 2014-15 annual budget.
NCCC requested an additional $50,000 from Franklin and Essex counties, or $1,190,000 each alongside $50,000 for a capital improvement fund, for the budget, the first increase in five years.
While the total budget decreased 1.4 percent from last year to $14.3 million, tuition will jump five percent next semester, from $4,050 to $4,250.
‘NO ONE WANTS TO INCREASE COSTS’
Finance Committee Chairman Tom Scozzafava asked NCCC President Dr. Steven Tyrell if the school was trying to bridge the funding gap by raising tuition.
“We’re staying competitive with our peers,” he said, stating the trend of declining enrollment across the state above Westchester County.
“Fundamentally, no one wants to increase costs for the students,” he said. “We are very sensitive about that. If we weren’t, we could look at the current budget deficit and try to bridge that gap, but that would be absolutely untenable to our students.”
Minerva Supervisor Stephen McNally asked if all applicants were accepted to the school’s nursing program. “There’s an overall shortage of nurses in Essex County,” he said. “There’s like a 20 percent acceptance rate from [Adirondack Community College and SUNY Adirondack] and I was just wondering if you get the enrollment up and get the people to come from Adirondack to get them to come to Essex County and try to expand our nursing program.”
“There’s a huge wait list,” said Tyrell. “We’re limited in clinical sites. We can’t fit any more through the door — it’s an untenable situation. Can’t have a group of 10 people with eight patients on the floor. It really has a lot to do with regulations.”
Essex County must cough up the cash for each resident that opts to attend community college outside of the county.
That number amounted to about $597,000 last year, Treasurer Michael Diskin told lawmakers last month.
Revenue assumptions show that NCCC anticipates collecting $363,000 this year from out-of-state tuition, a 7.4 percent decrease from last year.
In an interview, Scozzafava said he would like to see the chargebacks decline and called for more recruitment efforts within the county’s school districts.
“Community colleges should support the community,” he said.”
Scozzafava said he would also support an increase in funding for vocational training.
“You have to more vocationally-inclined,” he said. People will tell you they can’t find skilled, blue-collar workers — plumbing and heating, electricians and mechanics. Those trades will be around to the end of the millennium.”
NCCC’s budget includes an $125,000 increase in marketing and outreach efforts, nearly double over last year.
Both counties have to approve the budget. Franklin County legislators were rattled by the proposed increase at a meeting last week, citing financial uncertainty within their own ranks.
Tyrell said the conversation was productive. “New board members just need more information on how the process works.”
That legislative body will hold their public hearing on July 17 before voting on the resolution.
Each county has the right to approve their own numbers, said Tyrell. “We preferably it’s the same number, it usually it is.”
If Franklin fails to chip in the same amount, then both sides might need to meet for further discussion, he said.
“When the community college system was founded in the 1950s, the formula was one-third each from the county, the state and the students,” said Tyrell.
Since the 1970s, the student percentage is tacking upward.
“We continue to put this on the backs of students instead of maintaining the formula,” he said. “We are very concerned about that.”
School officials have until late-August to adopt the budget.
NCCC has campuses in Saranac Lake, Malone and Ticonderoga.