Budget & Finance Committee Requests Chargeback Relief from Albany

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

New City – In a unanimous decision, the county legislature’s budget & finance committee approved a memorializing resolution calling on the state legislature and governor to resolve problems with the state’s chargeback system for community colleges at its March 12 meeting.

The resolution came in response to Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) chargebacks, which are normally reimbursed to other counties by Rockland for about one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars per student, but given the four year and masters programs at FIT, the county has been slammed with chargebacks which total five to six thousand dollars per semester.

“It is as if Rockland County residents are subsidizing FIT with our taxpayer dollars,” Legislator Ilan Schoenberger explained.

The chargeback issue comes as part of a broader discussion of unfunded mandates stemming from the state’s continued delays in reimbursing Rockland Community College for the full forty percent community college subsidy promised by the state. The county has only received about twenty eight percent of the state subsidy, meaning the county must continue to pay more than the agreed upon share of education costs.

In response to the resolution, Legislator John Murphy hoped to expand its efficacy and impact by proposing an open dialogue between county and state legislators on the larger issue of unfunded mandates, hoping to encourage their action on a state level.

“I would like to dialogue with them to make sure they understand how intensely we feel about the unfunded mandates and chargebacks,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s suggestion was supported by fellow legislators and a meeting will be arranged for an undetermined date.

In addition to the chargeback issue, the committee also approved the scheduling of a public hearing on the sale of Summit Park’s Nursing Home to a local development corporation, though no resolution on the fate of the facility was brought forward. The hearing’s date will is yet to be determined.