The Cortland County Finance and Administration Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a recommendation to contribute nearly $1.85 million to Tompkins Cortland Community College’s 2022-23 budget.
The community college’s total operating budget is $33.6 million and the county’s contribution will be paid in four installments beginning next year, according to a resolution introduced by the county legislature.
Legislative Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-LD-2) said Cortland’s voice On Wednesday, Cortland and Tompkins counties sponsor the local community college.
“Together, though each year, Cortland and Tompkins support the budget (of Tompkins Cortland Community College) as sponsor counties,” he said. “This is based on the formula that accounts for differences in population size between Cortland and Tompkins to help ensure equal support for each.”
Harbin said he supported the contribution, highlighting some of the college’s contributions to the community.
“Tompkins Cortland Community College recently piloted, with our support, a new workforce development program to also help train people for new careers. It is our local community college that benefits our entire community,” he said. “I appreciate the college leadership team working to expand enrollment beyond Cortland and Tompkins, as well as continuing to support programs that help our children and residents here.”
William Talbot, the college’s vice president of finance and administration, presented an outline of the budget to the committee on Tuesday. He highlighted the opportunities and challenges ahead.
“We are still focused on restructuring job opportunities and salaries to align and give us the biggest impact on enrollments,” Talbot said. He noted that the college is also working on targeting enrollment through marketing, advertisements and creating new programs. “Registration as marketing advertising, new programs. Registrations are up for the first time in probably a decade. We’re looking at a 3% increase.”
Although he is on track with enrollment, Talbot admitted that tuition is only a small part of the college’s revenue. Talbot also lamented the loss of some state funding, noting that the state does not fund the college to the extent it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He added that the college had lost about $700,000 in public funding.
College officials are considering grants and other funding opportunities to offset these losses.
“It’s important that the college has been proactive in trying to deal with challenges as they arise,” he said. “We made some tough decisions.”
Talbot also talked about a few emergency accounts the college will tap into in the event of a “rainy day.” Other factors such as bleak economic forecasts for the near future don’t help, Talbot said.
“We have a reasonable plan for next year and we’re not asking the county to increase the amount you pay us in the next budget year,” he told lawmakers. “The work on the capital side and the funding provided for workforce development is so appreciated. We will try to overcome the natural increases that have occurred. I cannot guarantee that (we will not request additional funding) next year.
At the meeting, incoming Tompkins Cortland Community College president Amy Kremenek addressed lawmakers.
“I have long admired the work of (Tompkins Cortland Community College), it is certainly a strong institution with a great history of innovation, entrepreneurship and academic excellence,” she said. “Community colleges across the state have been facing enrollment issues and we’ve been working very hard to resolve them.”
The county legislature will vote on the contribution to the college budget on June 23.