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Nassau lawmakers approve NCC budget with $300 tuition hike

The Nassau Community College campus in Garden City

The Nassau Community College campus in Garden City is pictured Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

Nassau Community College students will see a $300 tuition hike next year -- the largest in a decade -- under a 2015-2016 budget approved Monday by Nassau County legislators.

The legislature voted unanimously for the $213.6 million spending plan, with little discussion of the tuition hike.

Tuition for full-time students will rise by $150 per semester, to $4,534 annually. The 7 percent increase is the largest for the college since 2006, according to the county's independent Office of Legislative Budget Review.

Acting NCC President Kenneth Saunders told lawmakers that without the tuition hike, the college faced a $6 million deficit.

"Trust me, we would prefer that it would be otherwise," Saunders said.

Suffolk Community College expects to charge $4,570 for full-time tuition in 2015-2016.

Nassau's tuition hike comes as enrollment continues to decline.

The number of full-time students has dropped every year since 2011; officials predict it will decline again this fall, to 17,409 from 17,764 in the 2014-15 school year.

Total spending will be $2.9 million less than in 2014-15, a 1.3 percent decline. Officials said the reduction was due largely to staff reductions.

The county's contribution to the college will remain at $52.2 million, while state aid will grow by 1.2 percent.

Also Monday:

Lawmakers passed legislation mirroring orders by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano that mandate vendors to disclose whether they use lobbyists to get county work.

Mangano issued the orders last month in the wake of federal corruption charges against State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam. Prosecutors allege that the men influenced the awarding of a $12 million county contract to an Arizona firm that employed Adam Skelos. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Legislative Democrats supported the bill but said it should have required more detailed questions and required vendors to disclose any ties to political parties.

"There are going to be holes in the safety net," said Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury).

The legislature put off consideration of a Mangano bill to establish a county land bank to address abandoned "zombie" homes. The nonprofit land bank would allow Nassau to acquire, rebuild and sell properties to return them to the tax rolls. The measure was pulled from the legislative calendar for possible revisions.

Long Island municipalities spent at least $3.2 million in 2014 to maintain vacant properties, including zombie homes abandoned by owners during foreclosure proceedings.

Democrats support a land bank, but want Mangano to name representatives of communities with large numbers of zombie houses to its board.

"The Legislature and administration are discussing revisions regarding membership," Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said of the delayed vote.

With Robert Brodsky

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