Legislature passes SUNY Dutchess budget, increases funding by $1.75 million

At the July 9 meeting of the Dutchess County Legislature, the annual budget for Dutchess Community College (DCC) was approved 16-7.

The budget increases the the county’s contribution by $1.75 million over the previous year, primarily due to reduced enrollment. College attendance is counter-cyclical. When the economy is going well, many would-be students opt to join the workforce rather than attend college. DCC receives state funding on a per-student basis so when attendance wanes, state funding drops as well as tuition – fewer students means less tuition collected overall.

The increase has no immediate impact on county taxes and will be factored into the annual budgeting process this fall.

Eventually, when the economy slows down and jobs are tougher to find, enrollment will increase, state funding will rise and the county will be asked for less. The typical split for community colleges has the county, the state and the student each splitting a third of the costs. With this budget, Dutchess County will still be contributing just 26%.

“Dutchess Community College draws students from throughout the Hudson Valley, not just Dutchess,” said Minority Whip Kristofer Munn (D-Red Hook). “While enrollment is down in this expanding economy, as it is at most similar institutions, it is crucial for us to support our local college and keep it in good shape for any tough times to come.”

Several residents and alumnae from the county came out to speak in favor of supporting the requested funding for Dutchess Community College. Key points made by many residents included the need for ongoing access to quality education and giving students of all ages better opportunities in life.

The resolution passing the budget also calls on Robin Lois, the Dutchess County Comptroller, to do a full assessment of the college’s books, something that was already on her schedule.

Legislator Randy Johnson (D-City of Poughkeepsie) said, “This is not the time to turn our backs on students and kill their dreams. The prize of Dutchess County is not the jail, it’s not DPW, it’s not the airport, but it is our community college. We live in a world where we see tax breaks given to the wealthy all of time, so I think it’s time to invest in the present and the future, by giving breaks to the general public by funding public education for Dutchess Community College.”

Minority Leader, Hannah Black (D-Hyde Park), said, “For many years prior to recent years, the County has notoriously underfunded its own community college compared to other counties throughout the Hudson Valley. I attribute my broader sense of giving back to our community and values to attending Dutchess Community College as many here in Dutchess County do. Without hesitation, DCC has answered the need for expanding services into the community through programs such as Dutchess Thinks Ahead and the new educational site at the Family Partnership Center. I am always proud to vote to support DCC.”

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