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NCCC tuition up 2% in budget

Niagara County Community College's proposed 2012-13 budget features a 2 percent tuition increase and no growth in the county's contribution to the college.

The County Legislature is expected to vote Tuesday to schedule a public hearing on the spending plan for June 19.

Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, also a member of the NCCC board of trustees, said he expects no problem getting the lawmakers to pass the $48.6 million budget, which represents a spending increase of six-tenths of 1 percent.

"Not with no increase [in the county share], and you can't decrease it," Ross said. "It makes an easy situation."

State law bars counties from reducing their level of financial commitment to a community college.

This will be the sixth consecutive year the county's contribution will be $8,871,000, according to William Schickling, NCCC's vice president of finance and information technology.

The college has sought increases in the past and the Legislature has always refused them, so this year NCCC isn't even bothering to ask.

"It's the times more than anything," Ross said. "And they have a good fund balance."

Schickling said NCCC has $10 million stashed away, and it is appropriating $931,000 of that into the 2012-13 budget, which is $117,000 more than the surplus funds plowed into the budget for the academic year now ending.

"We want to be judicious about this," he said. "The way the economic recovery is trickling along, the county and the state will probably follow along with that."

"We've discussed with the county over the last several years where they're at financially," Schickling said. "The expectation was, the county wasn't any better able to afford an increase than they were the last several years."

The 2 percent tuition increase moves the tab for a full-time student to $1,848 per semester, an increase of $36. For part-timers, tuition rises to $154 per credit hour, an increase of $3. There also will be a general 2 percent increase in fees.

Schickling said the new $30.6 million NCCC Culinary Arts Institute, slated to open this fall in Niagara Falls' former Rainbow Centre Mall, should be a net financial positive for the college, despite the 10 new jobs that will be filled because of the facility.

He said the culinary program is the biggest factor in the expected enrollment increase.