Proposed Solutions to Community College Chargebacks

Rockland County Legislator Ed Day announced Wednesday morning, a five-point plan for addressing the issue of community college chargebacks in Rockland County.

Fellow county legislator Cris Carey, Stony Point Town Councilwoman Luanna Konopko, and Orangetown Councilman Paul Valentine, joined Day for the announcement.

Earlier this year, the county government, voted to pass $1.8 million in community college chargeback costs to the towns in an effort to clear up the county’s financial situation.

That move tacked on a substantial amount of money, mid year, to towns’ budgets. Many were forced to dip into reserve funds and surpass New York State’s two percent tax levy cap for their 2013 budgets.

Community college chargebacks are costs paid by counties when a resident attends a community college in a neighboring community. For example a Rockland student who attends Westchester Community College would incur chargeback costs for the county.

However, included in this community college system is the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. According to Day’s numbers, FIT accounts for 60 percent of the chargebacks paid in Rockland County.

In the group’s five-point plan, they propose removing FIT from the community college system, as a way to save Rockland and other New York counties substantial costs.

Day pointed out that unlike Rockland Community College, which only offers an Associate’s Degree, FIT offers four year Bachelor’s and Master’s programs, adding on unfair costs for taxpayers. The plan also calls for the proper state funding of community colleges, as required by law.

Also proposed was a minimum GPA that community college students must achieve to be eligible for taxpayer-funded loans, and a minimum timeframe for those students to complete their degrees.

Stay tuned for more updates after the Thanksgiving holiday.