Bipartisan Push To Review Community College Chargebacks (VIDEO)

Five point proposal put forward with backing from local, county and state officials.


Earlier this year the Rockland County Legislature approved a resolution to transfer the burden of community college chargebacks from the county to the towns becasue of its budget deficit. With that legislation, the towns found themselves dealing with an unexpected $1.8 million in costs.  On Wednesday, Legislator Ed Day (R-New City/Pomona) unveiled a five-point proposal to revamp the community college chargeback program and reduce the costs eventually paid by taxpayers.  

Day presented the plan with Legislator Cris Carey (R-Bardonia), Orangetown Councilman Paul Valentine, a Republican, and Stony Point Councilwoman Luanne Konopko, a Democrat.  Day said Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, (D-New City) and Clarkstown Councilman George Hoehmann (R-Nanuet) were also working with them. 

“It’s a partnership,” said Day.  “It takes a number of people to move these ideas forward.”

The first step of the plan would remove the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) from the community college system.  Day said FIT, which offers bachelors and master’s degrees, is responsible for $1 million of the tuition chargeback costs. All the other schools in the community college system offer associate’s degrees, which are typically earned in two years.  Zebrowski has agreed to introduce legislation in Albany that would take FIT out of the community college system.

“Taxpayers should not be asked to pay for a master’s program under the guise of a community college mission,” said Day.

In 1957 FIT received accreditation to offer associate’s degrees. According to FIT’s website, college representatives and supporters lobbied for approval to include its advanced degree programs. “In 1975, an amendment to the Education Law of New York State permitted FIT to offer BS and BFA programs; another in 1979 authorized master’s programs.” 

The second component would require New York State to follow state education law, Section 602 and fund 40 percent of the community colleges’ operating budgets.  According to Day, the state has been paying about 24 percent. Zebrowski plans to introduce legislation that would require the state to fulfill its responsibility pay 40 percent of the operating budget. 

Currently there is no time limit for students to complete a community college course of study.  The proposal recommends a guideline of a maximum of four years for a traditional, first-time, full-time student to graduate.  Day said students who work to support themselves or their families would be among those exempted from the limitation.

The fourth provision would set a minimum grade of 2.0 for students to be eligible for taxpayer-funded loans.  Day said the current grade standard is 0.5 or D minus.  To reduce out of county expenses, students would be responsible for the county portion of tuition if they took a course that was also offered in their home county’s community college.

Valentine said the fifth recommendation would encourage residents to study locally. 

“If we have comparable programs why wouldn’t you go here,” he said.

Konopko said she thought the proposal was a move in the right direction.

“It’s a misappropriation of justice as far as I’m concerned as a taxpayer to have the government, the state government impost these mandates on us and then on the other hand in the next breath impose a two percent tax cap,” she said.

Carey described the effort as a common sense approach that was businesslike because it brought together different levels of government to talk about a specific problem and how to solve it instead of pushing it down to the next level. 

“I think it really makes sense to get the state, the county and the town in a room and have a lot more conversations like this one,” said Carey.

The  chargebacks are the tuition costs that the county had been paying for residents who attend community colleges outside Rockland. The $1.8 million breaks down to local costs of $578,000 for Clarkstown and Ramapo, $232,000 for Orangetown, $157,000 for Stony Point and $170,000 for Haverstraw.

In June, State Senator David Carlucci introduced legislation to prevent the county from passing along the chargebacks to the towns.  The bill did not make it to the floor of the senate.  

Watchdog November 22, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Ironically, this action, which I applaud, would not have arisen had it not been for the chargebacks. There is much in County government that is duplicative but also much which is unnecessary such theTourism Dept. I would also like to be convinced that we Need a DWI. Coordinator. And other apparently patronage jobs.
Michael Mandel November 22, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I commend Legislator Ed Day and both Republicans and Democrats who support this proposal. No matter where the funding for community colleges originates, State, County or Town government, it is still coming from the same taxpayers’ pockets. This program which classifies FIT which grants both Bachelor and Master Degrees as a community college is ridiculous. Another of the reforms suggested in the five point program such as maintaining a 2.0 GPA in order to be eligible for a taxpayer funded loan makes sense. Finally, it is about time the State picked up its financial responsibility and fund its mandates. Legislator Day has been able form a partnership and work across party lines to get the job done. Thanks for thinking about the taxpayers.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day November 22, 2012 at 02:10 PM
The key issue here, and one that my colleagues in the other levels of government agree with, is that passing costs along to other levels of government does not solve anything AND often just increases the cost to taxpayers. Unlike other typical governmental approaches, this initiative actually is focused on REMOVING the cost to taxpayers. It may be that since we all have full time employment outside of government that our perspective is more solutions oriented. The F.I.T. piece will actually remove $1 million of costs from the taxpayer's burden as opposed to putting it on ANY tax bill. The other initiatives all have a cost relief components to them, and when all is said and done, and if fully implemented, nearly all of these present taxpayer funded costs would disappear. Finger pointing gets us nowhere ... It is partnerships such as this - spread across three levels of government - that can actually solve problems, and I thank all my colleagues for being part of that.
Watchdog November 22, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Many employers have tuition reimbursement programs that can help towards a degree. It might take a little longer but you will have that same degree. Many of my contemporaries, myself included, received their bachelor and advanced degrees by taking advantage of these programs. Government does not have to absorb all the cost. Taxpayers are suffering. The County is bankrupt due to corrupt leadership. It is heartening to see this kind of cooperation which has been rare. Perhaps it can be continued to attack the ever increasing cost of governent at all levels, however with the same people in office, I am not too hopeful. Didn't they approve another double digit tax hike and now we pay a 4% tax on our utility bills. How come when taxpayers call attention to the problems it is called "fingerpointing" and when politicians do it (State Mandates for example) it is called "informing taxpayers":) :)?
The Real Mary Smith November 23, 2012 at 03:52 AM
This is political grand standing by Legislator Day! Get real! How could you and your fellow legislators approve a budget year after year that had revenues that could not be met. I love how you blame the "executive branch" for the county financial woes. Your branch controls the purse. Part of the blame should rest with you and your fellow legislators... Finally, taking a cheap shot at SUNY Board Chairman. You know better than that Ed!
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day November 23, 2012 at 02:54 PM
With all respect there are 6 of us trying to solve a problem, not grandstanding. It is a bi-partisan, across the county effort to stop the passing of the buck and actually ELIMINATE a tax cost to you. Would have thought you would view that as a positive! You should know that in a legislature, we have diverse positions and strategies. I know you are aware that a few of us have been consistent for nearly 5 years now on the fact that we have been going in the wrong direction; suggested alternatives; and refused to go along with these suspect budgets. That is all a matter of record. http://rocklandgov.com/departments/county-legislature/legislative-agendas/ http://rocklandgov.com/departments/county-legislature/edwin-j-day/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDBFupOsk40 As far as the SUNY Chairman (married to the FIT president) is concerned, I went out of my way to state that I was "asserting no improprieties", but merely saw a compelling coincidence. Given that efforts over the past few years to change what is our view (yes, all of us) an absurd taxpayer grab have gone nowhere, should one not consider that the concern to cut highly inappropriate taxpayer funding to FIT may not be at the top of one's list because it impacts their situation? Ignore the fact that this one school continues to have an extraordinarily unique funding mechanism that no other SUNY school has? Yes, I will ask that question...as it is a million dollars of our money ... and that is my concern.
Tom Sullivan November 23, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Mary - Not sure why you are attacking Ed and the others pushing these common sense ideas?!? Politics aside, when our elected officials do something that makes sense, they should be applauded. Ed, Thanks once again for showing such great leadership and working with all sides to push something that is good for all taxpayers in Rockland. Tom Sullivan - Pearl River
Marty Williams November 23, 2012 at 03:54 PM
As far as I know, Day voted against the budget pretty much every year. And where is the "cheap shot?" I can't even see a reference to the board chairman in the article. As far as I can see, this could actually save us money, and from the article, there are several officials at all levels of government involved. So how is this grandstanding by one particular official?
Daniel Salmon November 23, 2012 at 04:41 PM
isn't it time that we we begin to look at duplication of services in addition to the chargebacks to the towns. This 1 million dollars is significant but lets put more to it so we can really show the taxpayers some relief.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day November 23, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Yes, Dan, you are absolutely correct. And there has been some efforts along those lines by a number of legislators, including myself. I will be speaking to that (and other concepts) on December 11th, and with hope we can get that ball rolling on Jan. 1st, 2014. Welcome your partnership on that as always! Regards to Ellie and family.
Jack Moolick November 23, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Mary, if you. followed Ed Day's work. you will find that he has spoken out. against these phony budgets but is outvoted by the Democratic leadership time and. time again. http://nanuet.patch.com/blog_posts/race-for-county-executive-the-fox-against-the-light-of-day
Judy Kurland November 24, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Why does RCC keep expanding if there's a shortage of money and the cost of going there has really soared. Why not just keep RCC at the size it is and make sure students attending are qualified. If they need remedial, they should pay for it themselves. We can't keep holding their hands because they didn't apply themselves in high school.
Judy Kurland November 24, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I truly understand how lucky I was that in 1954 I was able to get a four year degree in Brooklyn college free, and a master's at Hunter also free. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have lived the life I live now - a retired NYC public school teacher after 25 years. I wish we could have continued that for so many worthy lowincome students. Thank you NYC


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