Legislative committee approves $50K more to GCC, sets budget public hearing for June 9
The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee this afternoon approved a $50,000 increase in the county’s sponsorship of Genesee Community College – raising the amount for 2021-22 to more than $2.6 million – and set a public hearing on the two-year college’s $37.4 million budget for 5:30 p.m. June 9 at the Old County Courthouse.
GCC President James Sunser reported that the budget, which takes effect on Sept. 1, is $700,000 less than the current year spending plan, attributing the decrease in cost savings due to a five-step plan that was put into place in March 2020.
Aid from New York State will decline as well based on the formula provided to the college, Sunser said.
“It goes down to $9,736,511 based on 98 percent of prior year actual,” he said. “The college is also asking the county to consider a $50,000 increase in their … contribution. That increase in sponsorship would bring the county to $2,686,374 or 7.2 percent of the total budget.”
Sunser said the budget calls for a $100 per semester tuition increase for full-time students, $5 per credit hour increase for part-time students and $1 per credit hour for Accelerated College Entrance students.
He also noted that the college’s charge-back rate to counties outside of Genesee would decrease.
“The increase in the county’s sponsorship helps us to minimize that reduction by a bit – so that does have an effect on charges to other counties as well,” he said, adding that the college makes about $500,000 in other income (prior year recoveries, investments, etc.) but will be using almost $1.9 million in reserves to balance its budget.
Concerning the use of available funds, Sunser said the objective “would be to get that down to zero usage throughout the year through a combination of things like salary savings, better than anticipated contract costs, utility bills – things of that nature.”
Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein asked if money from the American Rescue Plan was available for colleges.
Sunser replied that up to $2 million could be heading to GCC, but half of that would go directly to students and the other half would be for COVID-19-related expenses going forward.
If the college does get that federal funding, Sunser said it would be used for Zoom videoconferencing technology in all classrooms and maintenance projects at the campus.
“We would be outfitting all of our classrooms so that we can do Zoom technology to and from – not only to people’s homes but to the other six campus centers as well,” he said.
Sunser pointed out that GCC has reduced its budget by $4 million over the last two years and is down about 34 full-time positions “through a combination of voluntary retirements, natural turnover and then some folks that we had to retrench to make the budget work.”
In the end, Stein said she was on board with the additional $50,000.
“All of our costs are going up, regardless of what we do,” she said. “If we continue to short or say no, someday we’re going to have to pay the piper. And I know when we came on the legislature, it was a $250,000 jump in one year, and that was really difficult.
"So, understanding the costs going forward and the fact that they reduced their budget to the amount that they have, meeting in the middle is a good place for us to be here in Genesee.”
Upon approval by the full legislature following the public hearing, the sponsorship of $2,686,374 for the 2021-22 fiscal year would be included in the county tax levy for 2021.
Former Coroner Compensated
In other action, the committee supported “discretionary compensation” in the amount of $1,369 to former Genesee County Coroner Jeff McIntire for time spent on the job following the airplane crash in October 2020 in the Town of Pembroke that claimed the lives of attorneys Steven Barnes and Elizabeth Barnes.
Previously, the legislature passed a local law giving them authority to provide additional compensation in catastrophic events.
County Manager Matt Landers said that McIntire, who since has relocated to Florida, lost about 80 full-time employment hours while taking part in the long investigation of the crash,
Previously: Genesee Community College eliminates six, doesn't renew seven full-time positions