County legislators to hold public hearing on TC3’s budget

(Photo provided by SUNY).

The Cortland County Legislature will host a public hearing next week on Tompkins Cortland Community College’s budget, with a vote to follow.

As a sponsoring community, Cortland County has a say in the college’s operational budget.

The $34.9 million spending plan for TC3’s 2023-24 school year will feature a 2% increase in tuition for students, which accounts around $500,000 million in revenue for the college, officials said at Tuesday’s County Finance and Administration committee meeting.

A delegation of college officials presented highlights of the spending plan to legislators. The college has seen an uptick of 8% in student enrollment, said Sophia Darling, the college’s new vice president of finance and administration.

TC3 president Amy Kremenek said the increase is calculated as the number of new students compared to last year’s count.

“We are still coming out of that post-COVID era,” Kremenek said. “Last year we also had an increase of students. We are seeing increases two years in a row.”

Kremenek said TC3 is one of the four community colleges in New York state that are experiencing the highest influxes in enrollment.

“We remain relatively stable but we want to keep up with inflation,” Kremenek said, noting a 3% wage increase in the budget.

Kori Post, TC3’s associate director of budget and finance, said the college is also trying to keep up with inflation. To do so, Post noted, there will be a 3% increase in the wage expenditure lines, reflected in higher pay for employees.

On the subject of inflation, Legislature Majority Leader George Wagner (R-LD-15) asked how the college determined the 2% increase in tuition. Wagner made the argument that inflation has gone up at least 7% percent in recent years and would likely result in higher tuition increases. 

The Consumer Index Price, which is usually taken as an indicator of inflation, rose 7% between 2021 and 2022. 

Post said the increase is determined by state officials and the college’s board of trustees. Student tuition, Post added, makes up about half of the revenue in the college’s operating budget.

Legislator Richard Stock (R-LD-6) also inquired about the micro/nano fabrication safety courses the college launched in the spring in order to offer a credential that could be attractive to advanced manufacturing companies like Micron in Onondaga County. The credential program would teach students to maintain safe and clean manufacturing rooms.

Kremenek said there are a “handful of students” enrolled in the program.

“It was just approved in the spring,” she said. “Part of the challenge is the name. It is a very long name for a program most people won’t necessarily understand. The Micron project is years out. It is important we help people understand that there is work needed here locally and that the credential isn’t exclusive to Micron.” 

The public hearing on the budget’s approval is set for Aug. 24, before the county legislators’ monthly meeting.