PLATTSBURGH — Clinton Community College is asking the Clinton County Legislature for increased financial support for the upcoming school year.
The additional $89,419 for 2014-15 would bring the county’s contribution to $2,644,247.
The total proposed budget is $14,367,762, down 4.6 percent from the current year.
“The reality of the financial situation is that the college is a business, and that business has as its sole customers, students,” CCC Interim President Fred Smith told members of the County Finance Committee during a recent meeting.
Not unlike other community and four-year colleges, he continued, Clinton Community’s enrollment peaked in 2010-11 at the equivalent of 1,622 full-time students but has steadily gone down since.
CCC’s enrollment came in at 1,310 this school year, and the equivalent of 1,264 full-time students are projected for next year.
“Each full-time-equivalent student is worth approximately $10,000 (in) tuition, county support (and) state support, so if we gained 10 more students, that’s worth $100,000,” Smith said.
The school’s main focus in the coming year is the recruitment and retention of students, he added.
While state aid has started to increase after years of flattening and declining, it still falls short of 2009 funding levels, CCC Vice President for Administration and Finance Lisa Shovan told meeting attendees.
“If they were to take the 2009 level and apply it today within our budget, that would translate to over $251,000 of operating revenue,” she said.
Although the state has restored $75 in aid per the equivalent of each full-time student, Shovan continued, that increase will be countered by smaller enrollment numbers.
The college plans to increase tuition by 2.5 percent for the coming year, which would raise annual rates for full-time students by $100.
Still, Shovan noted, “we’re positioned (at) about 14 out of the 30 community colleges in regard to the level of our tuition.”
CCC has also taken measures to reduce expenditures, she added, and has decreased its operating costs by 4.6 percent for 2014-15.
“The majority of those changes are within the personnel and fringe benefits, and we’re holding the contractual and the equipment expense lines flat,” Shovan said.
The school plans to maintain job vacancies, which were achieved through attrition, in the equivalent of 3.5 positions.
This will equate to about $131,000 in savings, according to Shovan.
In addition, she noted, the college anticipates an annual reduction of nearly $13,000 in energy costs as a result of a recent lighting retrofit in the Forrence Center gym.
“We continue to seek other operating efficiencies to counter ongoing, increasing costs that we have no control over,” Shovan said.
The school also anticipates increasing its non-operating revenue — income from sources such as student fees and Center for Community and Workforce Development workshops — by about $10,000 next year.
The center is expanding programming, Shovan said, and the college will raise its technology fee for students from $17 to $20.
In addition, CCC plans to appropriate $97,384 in fund balance to its 2014-15 budget.
The college is making a concerted effort to stabilize its use of reserves, Shovan noted, and strike a balance between operating expenses and revenues.
“We have to be looking beyond 12 months, and what we’re currently starting to do is look out five years so we can respond proactively to any emerging challenges,” she said.
Between 2010 and 2012, the college consumed $1.6 million in fund balance, Shovan added, but is projected to use just $211,994 in reserves between 2012 and 2015.
While some stabilization efforts take longer than others to pay off, she said, “we are definitely on track for continuing to maintain a very small gap between revenue and operating expenditures.”
Email Ashleigh Livingston:firstname.lastname@example.org