Supervisors approve FM’s 2018-19 budget

Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger addresses the college's 2018-19 budget during a Fulton County Board of Supervisors' public hearing Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday adopted Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s proposed $19.8 million 2018-19 budget following a public hearing at the County Office Building.

The budget — for the fiscal year beginning Sept. 1 — asks for an additional $50,000 each from Fulton and Montgomery counties, for total contributions of about $1.55 million from each county.

The FMCC Board of Trustees adopted the budget May 17 at the college.

On the heels of Fulton County’s approval, the Montgomery County Legislature still has to approve of the FMCC budget at their meeting set for 7 p.m. on July 24 in Fonda. Following that approval, the budget will be forwarded to the state University of New York.

“Enrollment has been going down at the college,” said FMCC President Dustin Swanger at the hearing. “Its been going down at colleges throughout the country.”

Just five years ago, FMCC reported fall full-time equivalent students at 2,144. That figure has dropped to about 1,600.

Swanger said this was the first time in three years that FMCC requested share increases from the sponsoring counties.

“We will see fewer state dollars,” Swanger said.

According to budget figures, FMCC will be receiving $188,000 in Small College Aid. There will be a $150 increase in the tuition rate, which will be $4,600 for the academic year. Swanger showed supervisors figures indicating that FMCC’s tuition for the 2016-17 school year was ranked 22nd highest of New York state’s 30 community college. That has climbed since 2013-14, when FMCC was ranked 27th, although Swanger said his college is still a “bargain.”

“We’re still in the bottom third,” Swanger said. “We’re happy about that.”

FMCC is using $250,613 in fund balance for the proposed budget.

But Swanger said the college has taken several “expense control” measures to balance the budget. They are: reduction of salaries — $499,084; equipment reduced — $10,000; maintenance reduced — $8,500; and recruitment reduced — $7,200. On the other hand, the college is experiencing a benefits increase of $77,500.

Swanger said sponsor shares represent 8 percent of the total budget.

“It’s about 24 percent for local support,” he said.

On another topic, Swanger said he was very pleased at the turnout at FMCC’s recent graduation in Schenectady. He said the graduation had to be held there because the FMCC gym is being renovated.

“It’s the largest graduation I think we’ve ever had,” Swanger said.

He said over 2,000 people attended the graduation and he credited many of the extended families for coming and making graduation day a “proud moment” for FMCC.

Gloversville 6th Ward Supervisor Warren Greene asked why tuition was down at FMCC.

Swanger responded by saying the reasons were two-fold. First, he said the American economy has improved, which can impact community college enrollment negatively.

Secondly, he stated: “There’s just fewer college-age students in the country.” Swanger said there are more minorities of that age — a population “less likely to go to college.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.