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$34.3 MILLION BUDGET EYED FOR NCCC

The Niagara County Community College board of trustees has proposed a $34.3 million budget for 2003-04, an increase of 4.3 percent from this year's.

The trustees are asking the County Legislature to provide $7.9 million toward the college's operation next year, a 10.4 percent increase from the $7.2 million the county allotted this year.

Although the college received $7.42 million for 2002-03, that amount included $300,000 in tobacco bond revenue and was a one-shot deal.

That means the county is legally obligated to give only $6.9 million for next year, NCCC officials said.

County Legislator William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, a member of the Legislature's Education Committee, said Wednesday the committee will study the trustees' proposal.

"It's something that we'll have to take a good look at," he said.

"We kind of forced them to eat up their fund balance over the last couple of years," Ross said. "We at the County Legislature used up our fund balance a few years back, and you know what happened . . . we had a 20 percent tax increase."

The trustees also voted unanimously to ask the County Legislature to give the college an additional $749,000 -- separate from the $7.9 million in basic funding -- to establish a reserve fund.

Trustees said they have been dealing with a dwindling fund balance for a few years.

Board Chairman Arthur G. Pappas said: "Everything's been cut this year, but the Legislature has been extremely helpful. . . . They have been supporting the college and its endeavors, and I'm optimistic they'll do the best they can."

Under the proposed budget, tuition would rise to $2,870 a year, an increase of 10.4 percent from 2002-03.

Part-time students would pay $116 per credit hour next year, an increase of 10.5 percent.

NCCC President James P. Klyczek said the largest increases in the budget came from a 2.4 percent increase in personnel services; a 16 percent increase for medical insurance; a 124 percent rise in one pension fund and 160 percent in another; a 34 percent increase in printing and advertising costs; and a 61 percent increase in plant operation and maintenance costs.

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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