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NCCC looks to raise outlays 3.7%

The Niagara County Community College board of trustees has adopted a $41.6 million spending plan for 2007-08, a 3.7 percent increase from the current year's budget of $40.1 million.

College officials said the budget calls for "a modest increase in student tuition" of $12 -- less than 1 percent -- to $1,596 per semester for full-time students.

Niagara County Legislature Vice Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said the spending package now will be forwarded to the Niagara County Legislature and its committees for review and approval.

He said he expects the Home and Administration committees to review the proposal next month.

A budget hearing would follow at the first Legislature meeting in June, with a vote possible later that month.

Asked if it had a chance of passing, Ross said this week: "All I can tell you is what the county manager [Gregory Lewis] tells his department heads: 'Three percent or less.' This budget is asking for a 3 percent increase from the county."

Ross also said a portion of that increase could consist of the low-cost power the county will begin receiving in September from the State Power Authority for supporting the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project for another 50 years.

"That cheap power will start coming in Sept. 1, the same day the college budget year will kick in," Ross said.

Bill Schickling, the college's vice president of finance, said the proposed budget contains no big changes from this year's, aside from normal increases in personnel costs and employee health care benefits.

"Health care costs represent the largest increase. They are going up by about three-quarters of a million dollars from about $7.1 million to 7.8 million. That's our biggest cost increase," Schickling said.

He said personnel costs are projected to increase by $143,000, from $22.6 million to $22.74 million.

As for revenues, the college is asking the county to increase its contribution to the school operation by $258,000, or 3 percent, next year, to $8.87 million next.

College officials projected tuition revenues to rise 2.5 percent, to $15 million.

Joan Wolfgang, board president, said an additional $862,000 in state aid, pushing the total to $11.7 million, helped hold down costs for students.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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