SCCC to legislature: 'We can't cut any more'
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Money continues to be a sore issue within county government, but on Thursday, Sullivan County Community College was spared the kind of cuts being asked of others.
County Manager David Fanslau had sent a letter to the college administration asking for an up-to-five-percent cut in the county funding rather than the three percent hike being proposed.
Though the college had already reduced the county share by more than five percent, the latest request was in line with what Fanslau has required of county departments in the midst of planning for the 2009 budget.
On Thursday, SCCC Board Chair Penny Coombe told legislators, “We have looked under every rock and stone we could find to cut the budget.”
That search proved futile, especially in the face of a possible $300,000 funding cut from the state.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but I really do think the budget you have in front of you is the best we can offer at this point,” Coombe stated.
Legislators, who had been rather lukewarm about such a cut anyway, unanimously agreed to send the budget with the three percent increase to a full Legislature vote this coming Thursday.
However, Legislature Chair Jonathan Rouis did feel both sides will have “to foster a closer working relationship” in the future.
And Fanslau said the future isn’t so bright. Though he’s been assured by NYS Senator John Bonacic that Governor David Paterson’s plan to shift costs from the state to the counties likely won’t pass the State Legislature, Fanslau has already told the county’s purchasing director to reject the stockpiling of any unnecessary supplies.
He’s also replacing the county’s 400 copiers, fax machines and printers with 100 all-in-ones to save between $100,000 and $200,000, and he anticipates the replacement of the county’s problem-prone phone system with a voiceover IP setup will reduce costs by as much as $280,000.
He was not pleased that SCCC would escape the fiscal constraints of county departments, now anticipating even more resistance to the five percent cuts in the 2009 budget.
“With all due respect to the vote you just took,” he told legislators, “that is really going to set the stage for making this more difficult.”
Legislator Alan Sorensen recommended increasing tipping fees at the landfill by $5 to cover the potential $300,000 shortfall Governor Paterson’s plan would create in Sullivan County, but Fanslau worried that would drive haulers away.
Rouis, however, said such a hike is inevitable in this fiscal climate.
“It has to happen,” he remarked. “It’s just the timing of it.”