Press-Republican

Opinion

February 25, 2013

In My Opinion: CCC efforts to balance budget

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “May you live in interesting times.” Whether this is a blessing or a curse depends on us.

These are interesting times. Clinton and other community colleges are more prominent than ever before. We have been asked to provide universal access to higher education, to educate citizens, to build a modern technical workforce, to support economic growth and to improve the quality of life in our regions.

Increasingly, we are expected to provide for the public good, but we face economic constraints that make it increasingly difficult for the public to provide the necessary resources.

As a result of the global economic crisis that began a few years ago, students have found that a college education is more essential than ever, yet also more expensive than ever.

Our county sponsor faces unfunded mandates of its own, along with a 2 percent property-tax cap that limits its ability to provide additional funding.

State support for New York’s community colleges has decreased by more than 25 percent in real terms and is now at the same level as a decade ago. Meanwhile, higher education salaries, wages, benefits and other operational expenses continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation.

Clinton is a financially viable institution of higher education. We continue to make progress on our 2012-2017 strategic plan, despite the economy.

Like almost every other community college in the state, we have been called upon in recent years to use some of our reserves as we absorb the precipitous drop in state aid that occurred between 2010 and 2012.

We have reduced expenses in many areas of our operation. We have cut non-personnel expenses, reduced the size of our support staff through attrition, slashed equipment costs by 35 percent, converted to more economical energy systems, developed new revenue streams and frozen salaries for our senior management.

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