This story was written by Pete Blanchard of the Cortland Voice, partner of the Ithaca Voice.
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CORTLAND, N.Y. – Officials at Tompkins Cortland Community College breathed a sigh of relief Thursday, after the Cortland County Legislature approved a 2 percent funding increase for the college’s 2015-2016 operating budget.
Last month, lawmakers rejected the proposal that increases the county’s contribution to TC3 by 2 percent, or roughly $39,000.
The funding agreement also authorizes TC3 to tap into the college’s surplus funds for an additional 2 percent increase.
On Thursday, legislator John Troy said the legislature “made a huge mistake” last month when it voted not to support that proposal after several meetings with college officials.
“This shocking vote was a slap in the face to each of these groups,” Troy said. “I hope the no votes came from a lack of the understanding of the issues.”
Legislators approved the proposal Thursday by an 11-1 vote, with five lawmakers absent.
Earlier this week, the Tompkins County Legislature adopted TC3’s budget in a unanimous vote.
Tompkins County’s share of the contribution the college is just over $2.9 million, while Cortland County contributes just over $1.7 million in funding. The funding formula is based on the proportion of students enrolled from each county.
Legislator James Denkeberger, who was the lone dissenting vote Thursday, noted the differences between Cortland and Tompkins counties in his decision.
“Let me be very plain: TC3 is an asset to this county,” Denkeberger said. “The counties are very different. We tend to be more working-class…If the budget keeps going up, there’s room for questions. I just think there’s a limit to how much we can spend.”
TC3 President Carl Haynes said he was “delighted” with the outcome of Thursday’s vote.
“I want to emphasize that this was a compromise that was worked out between the two counties,” Haynes said. “That’s the way the process has worked. It just took a couple tries to get there.”