Fulton County Board of Supervisors approves $17.9M FMCC budget for 2021-22

PHOTOGRAPHER:
FILE PHOTO

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors voted to approve Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s $17.9 million 2021-22 budget Monday.

The budget increases year-over-year spending at the college by 3.7%, but leaves Fulton County’s annual contribution to the college’s operating cost flat at $1.5 million.

“Fortunately because of the [federal] American Rescue Plan, and various stimulus packages we have been able to manage the spending increase without asking our sponsor counties for any increase in their contribution,” FMCC President Greg Truckenmiller told the board.

The Montgomery County Legislature approved the college’s budget on July 27, making the Fulton County Board of Supervisors vote the last step in FMCC’s annual budget process.

FMCC’s 2021-22 budget spends $12,555 per full time equivalent student [FTE], based on an estimated 1,325 full time equivalent students attending the college in 2020-21, which would be an increase of 157 FTEs from 2020.

A 16-page budget summary provided by Truckenmiller shows FMCC lost full-time students every year since 2016 when there were 1,349 full-time students and 1,285 part-time students at the college. In 2017 full-time students dropped to 1,250, in 2018 full-time students dropped to 1,136, in 2019 full-time students dropped below 1,000 to 998, and in 2020 full time students hit a low mark of 790 students.

The 2021-22 budget includes no tuition increase, leaving the cost of attendance at $5,040 per year. The budget includes $4.3 million in New York state aid.

Despite overall spending going up, FMCC’s budget includes some spending cuts, reducing salary and benefit costs by $413,424 and cutting lease expenses by $12,000.

FMCC’s budget has been bolstered by unprecedented federal assistance since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The college received $1.7 million from the U.S. CARES Act passed under President Donald Trump, which included money for pandemic supplies such as personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing, but also included money for bolstering the college’s distance learning technology and providing faculty and staff training, laptops and other technology for students and teachers.

FMCC received $3.01 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provided emergency grants to students, helped with pandemic related-costs and included aid for lost revenue to the college.

By far, however, the largest amount of federal aid came from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in March — which provided $5.5 million in aid, $2.7 million of which are emergency grants for students, with the money being spent over a period of two years.

FMCC’s 2021-22 budget spends $347,865 of “fund balance” which would normally be the college’s unspent reserves of revenue from prior years, but the college’s budget summary indicates all of the reserve funding is coming from the federal stimulus money.

“We remain one of the most efficient community colleges in [New York state’s CUNY] system and our spending per FTE student has actually dropped from last year when it was about $15,000 per student,” Truckenmiller said, referring to the $12,555 per student estimate based on the projection the school’s full time students will increase to 1,325 full time equivalent students.

Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Greg Young, who abstained from the budget vote because he works as a professor at the college, asked Truckenmiller how things look as of now for the college’s fall enrollment.

“It’s not where we want it to be at this point, but it’s been a unique year,” Truckenmiller said. “If you look at our daily benchmark reports, they are almost meaningless, because we’ve seen a 10 percent increase in enrollment in the last week, so where we would normally expect to be we aren’t yet, but we’re also seeing an uptick in the last few days. So, whether that’s people coming back from their post pandemic hangover and realizing ‘hey, I better get signed up and ready to roll’ — we don’t care, as long as they come. That’s the other benefit of the stimulus funds, we are able to maintain a lower enrollment, if necessary, we certainly hope it isn’t, and we’ve built a budget around that contingency.”

By Paul Wager