GCC adjusts from pandemic, asks for annual $50K
Dr. James Sunser, president of Genesee Community College, outlined the financial plan of $37.2 million and a request for $2,736,374 as the county’s local share. College officials are continuing to “work hard to keep our expenses in line,” Sunser said.
“As you know, after the pandemic, we had some pretty significant adjustments to the college operations. Some of them have perpetuated after this point. We have had the opportunity to keep things in line, the budget itself at $37.2 million. (Changes) include $ 100-a-semester increase in tuition for students, you all know that the majority of our students are financial aid eligible. So the majority of that in most cases will be covered from external grants that students will not have to pay back,” he said to the committee. “Even with that increase, GCC continues to be, if not the lowest, within the lowest, cost of community colleges throughout the system. So we're very conscious of keeping it affordable for our students.”
GCC Communications Vice President Justin Johnston said that GCC has traditionally used "a model of predictable and incremental budget increase requests" from Genesee County, rather than seeking larger or varying amounts year to year. The proposed increase of $50,000 in county funding, from $2,686,374 to $2,736,374, “is reflective of this long-standing philosophy,” he said.
About 67% of the budget is made up from salaries and benefits, Sunser said. That number can fluctuate up to 73 percent, and “not surprising when you think about what we do.”
“We have teachers and we have faculty, we have staff that supports students. So it’s not surprising that a good share of what you spend your money on would be for those services,” he said. “But we are still seeing some of the benefits of our five-step plan that we put in place during the beginning of the pandemic, and some salary savings that we saw through that. And we've also gotten some salary savings, and things like our adjunct lines, is a big piece. And that is really driven by enrollment. It was enrollment being flattened down slightly. We have less need for adjuncts and are shifting more of that work into a full-time workforce.”
County Manager Matt Landers said that, since the county’s share is still less than 8 percent of GCC’s total budget, along with the county’s share being one of the smaller shares compared to other sponsors, "the county believes a $50,000 annual increase is reasonable."
This presentation will end up going to the full County Legislature for a vote, and then on from there for final approval.
“Given that the budget process remains ongoing with the county-level review preceding the state level later this summer, with deference to those parties and their ability to review, GCC will refrain from further comment until the budget process has concluded,” Johnston said.
Photo: Dr. James Sunser, president of GCC