Suffolk County Community College's 24,000 students would face a $200 increase in annual tuition starting next fall under a proposed $189.4-million budget trustees approved Thursday.
The proposed spending package also seeks a 4 percent increase - or $1.5 million extra - from Suffolk County, even though County Executive Steve Levy had earlier directed the college not to budget for any county increase. Ernesto Mattace, trustee chairman, could not assess the school's chances of getting extra county money: "All we can do is try."
Levy indicated more county funds are unlikely, but said he would not make a decision until after reviewing the details of the budget.
"We're asking every department to cut back by 10 percent; it's difficult to imagine that we would approve an increase," Levy said. Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) was more blunt, saying chances are "slim to none. We've got no money."
Under the trustees' budget, tuition would rise from $3,576 to $3,776, with students paying 45 percent of the college cost, the state picking up 27.8 percent and the county just 27.2 percent. Each is supposed to account for one-third of the share.
College officials said the two-year school, where enrollment grew a record 10 percent this year, needs additional help because Gov. David A. Paterson has already proposed a $5.6-million cut in state aid. While state lawmakers have discussed restoring aid, nothing final has been resolved. The college is also projecting a 2 percent growth in enrollment in the next school year.
Nancy Steir, the college's finance vice president, said about $8 million of the increase is for mandated expenses like salary and benefits. She added there are only three new initiatives - $340,000 for an emergency medical technician program; $200,000 for three new college counselors and about $150,000 to staff the new eastern campus library building to open next year.
The college budget will be submitted to Levy Friday and forwarded to county lawmakers later in the spring. Under an agreement giving the college control over its budget, Levy and county lawmakers can only alter its contribution to the college, which this year totaled $38.7 million. They must complete the budget before school opens in September.
The trustees, after 80 minutes in executive session, also tabled for a second time a resolution to give college executive vice president George Gatta a raise and one-year extension to his contract. Jeff Kluewercq, head of the college's governance council, said the trustees may have inadvertantly created "two presidents" by having Gatta, who until recently served as interim president, report directly to the board rather than to new college president Shaun McKay.
Gatta later declined comment on Kluewer's concerns as did Mattace, though he told board members that he would call a special meeting to discuss the issue before the next monthly meeting. However, he added, "We have only one president."
Ellen Schuler Maukcq, faculty union president, also asked the trustees to defer on any pay raise for Gatta since the college is asking for concessions in mid-contract.
"We'd . . . like to see the exempt[administrators] lead by example," she said.