GCC President Jim Sunser is going through his first budget process with the college and he told county legislators Wednesday that he would rather not, at this stage, be asking the county for more money.
But, he said, for the sake of maintaining the quality of the institution, the county needs to provide another $50,000 in funding.
The proposed $37 million budget also anticipates the first tuition increase in four years -- raising the price for full-time students by $75 per semester.
"Any new president in his first year as an administrator would enjoy having the luxury of coming to the legislature or the students in the community and saying we're not going to increase funding from any source," Sunser said.
"But I don't think that would be in the best interest of the institution or the students we serve. We're developing an extremely austere budget as it is. I think it's important to take a look at these adjustments so we can maintain the quality of the academic program and the student services we provide."
Sunser met with legislators during the Ways and Means Committee meeting, which GCC hosted in its board room.
Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock said of course the legislature would like to do everything it can to support the college, she isn't sure the money will be available to increase the county government's share of funding.
The county is looking at $1.8 million in increases in mandates expenses such as Medicaid, health care and pensions, which far exceeds any tax increase the county could enact without the State Legislature overriding the tax cap law.
Plus the county is looking at a multimillion bill to repair roads and bridges, some of which will soon be unsafe for autos to driver over.
"These are the things that are frustrating for legislators, because these are the kinds of initiatives we would like to support," Hancock said. "These are very difficult times."
Sunser said the $50,000 increase in the county's share of funding would still represent only about 5 percent of the
county GCC's budget.
He said that given the fact that Genesee County's share is the lowest in the state for any single-sponsor community college, the county faces the possibility of losing control of the college without an increase in funding.
As a single-sponsor college, all of the trustees are local residents appointed by the legislator who have a keen understanding of the community's educational needs, Sunser said.
It's possible in the current economic environment that state officials will look at that 5 percent funding level and conclude the county has an outsized amount of authority over the college for the small size of the contribution.
"I want to make sure folks in Albany and else where understand how supportive Genesee County is of the college," Sunser said. "The legislature, the community and the board of trustees devote an inordinate amount of time supporting the college in all kinds of ways. That's a relationship I would like to maintain."
The budget includes 2.75-percent pay increase for faculty and staff, which is mandated by current union contracts.
While the county share of GCC's budget is the smallest in the state, GCC also keeps its budget lower than other community colleges, Sunser said.
Typically, GCC professors earn less than they might at other nearby community colleges, and that has been a problem recently as the college has tried to get accreditation for its new veterinarian tech program.
The accreditation agency is concerned that while the college has qualified instructors now, the college is not paying salaries that are competitive enough to retain the faculty and then replace them if they leave, which would render students in the program without qualified teachers.