County Executive Steve Bellone forwarded a proposed $221.5 million Suffolk County Community College budget to the County Legislature late Friday with a 3 percent increase in aid that will keep the proposed $250 hike in student tuition from going higher this fall.
The budget Bellone filed with the legislative clerk includes the 3 percent increase or $1.3 million extra that college trustees had been requesting, even though the county executive earlier instructed the college to expect a 1.5 percent increase.
Jason Elan, Bellone’s spokesman, said the administration made the decision in part based on savings anticipated from a new health insurance agreement with all county unions.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said Bellone’s decision will “make life easier” for lawmakers, who in recent years have amended the college budget to provide additional funding sought by the trustees that the county executive failed to include.
“The legislature has always been supportive of the community college and we’re always concerned about passing on additional costs to students,” Gregory said. “This is certainly a positive development.”
He also said he doesn't believe an impending financial settlement reached a week ago with now former college President Shaun McKay will have any impact on lawmakers during budget deliberations.
Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), the GOP caucus leader, agreed that McKay’s settlement shouldn't impact budget deliberations, but he declined to comment on the budget itself because lawmakers have yet to see the spending package.
Under the proposed college budget, annual tuition for full-time students would rise from $5,220 to $5,470. The college also proposed a $5 hike in the $100 student activity fees to pay for school sports, clubs and other activities.
The college budget, which calls for a $1.1 million reduction in spending, projects a 3.5 percent drop in student enrollment primarily because more students are now attending the college part time.