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Mon, 09 Jul 2007

Long Island Nassau CC vote postponed due to opposition - Newsday

Newsday: Long Island Nassau CC vote postponed due to opposition
BY SID CASSESE
July 9, 2007, 10:10 PM EDT

The Nassau Community College budget, which for the past six years has been approved quickly and unchanged, ran into a buzz saw of opposition Monday and the county legislature postponed a vote on it until July 18.
Members of the Democratic majority questioned the $190 million budget’s $10.5 million increase, which includes a tuition hike of $166 a year, and a 3.9 percent rise in the county’s share of the budget. The college’s budget is made up of funding from the county, the State University of New York and tuition revenues.
The budget increase is due in part to a new marketing strategy to recruit higher-paying students from outside the county, expansion plans and rising energy costs.
School officials and their supporters said the increase to $50 million in the county’s portion of the NCC budget means a property tax increase of only $4.30 over last year for homeowners.
"That’s just a little more than a penny a day," said Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown), an NCC graduate and supporter.
Some lawmakers expressed concern that the school might not be able to open on time in the fall if a budget is not passed. But Chuck Cutolo, the school’s government affairs chief, said "while the college can’t spend any money that has not been appropriated by the legislature, it is farfetched to think the school will close."
But Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) said the tuition hikes would bar some of the very people the school is meant to attract -- the working poor.
Legis. David Mejias (D-North Massapequa) said he pushed for a "no" vote on the budget to prod college officials and their supporters to lobby state officials harder to pay the state’s proper share.
Charles Loiacono, president of the college’s adjunct faculty union, called NCC a "patronage-bloated" machine that is "bilking" students. He noted that, with the proposed $166 tuition hike, tuition will have gone up $1,426 since 2000 -- a total of 41 percent.
NCC President Sean Fanelli replied: "Our board of trustees, the county budget office, the legislative budget office, the county comptroller and NIFA [the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which monitors Nassau’s finances] all reviewed this budget and had no problem with it."
Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs said she did not call for a vote on the budget Monday because "I thought there were questions that came up that needed answering and both I and Minority Leader Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) felt that waiting nine days was not too long."


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