Approved NCCC budget heads to counties

SARANAC LAKE - The North Country Community College Board of Trustees approved its 2009-10 budget last week.

Next year's budget is approximately $12.7 million - a 0.03 percent increase in spending over this year. The budget also includes a 4.8 percent increase to student tuition.

"That's about $170 more for students," said Interim President Fred Smith. College Vice President Ed Trathen said at least 85 percent of students will be able to cover the increase through tuition assistance programs and grants.

With the board's approval, the budget heads to Franklin County Legislators and the Essex County Board of Supervisors - the college's two major sponsors. Those lawmakers will decide on the budget in July, and then in August the budget goes before the SUNY Board of Trustees for final approval.

The budget includes a request for an additional $50,000 from each county, a result of a $45,000 loss in state aid this year. Smith noted that North Country will lose $153,000 in state aid in 2009-10.

"We are getting less from the state, we're asking more from the students and we're asking more from the counties," Smith said. "And that's what you see in the great State of New York; the burden is getting passed to the local level."

The current fiscal year's budget has been reduced by about $300,000, due in large part to the elimination of two positions. The school also replaced several retirees with adjuncts.

Smith also told the board last week that a bid has been awarded for architectural and engineering plans for Phase I of a multi-million dollar upgrade to the Saranac Lake campus. The first phase includes a new student center, library, classroom space and upgrades to the Sparks Athletic Center.

JMZ Architects was the lowest bidder and the choice of the project's steering committee. The Glens Falls-based company placed a bid at $177,200.

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