Legislature’s Budget & Finance Committee Requests Chargeback Relief, Passes Post-Sandy Financing

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

New City – The County Legislature’s Budget & Finance Committee approved a number of resolutions on May 13 for the general legislative assembly, including a memorializing resolution requesting state lawmaker support for reimbursement of community college chargebacks and the acceptance of various disaster recovery funds.

The request for the state legislature aims to press state legislatures to approve New York Senate Bill S.01561 and New York Assembly Bill A.00934 passed unanimously through the committee. If approved at the state level, the law would reimburse localities for community college chargebacks accrued from non-resident students.

Legislator Michael Grant also successfully added an amendment excluding support for a part of the law removing the county’s authority to charge cities and towns the chargeback fees.

“It seemed a little disingenuous to me,” Grant explained. “I certainly would like the state to pick up the charges for the upper division degrees for FIT and treat it like any other community college as far as associate’s degrees, but why they chose to include this in here leaves a little bit to be desired.”

The county’s incentive to make the request comes largely from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). FIT is unique in that the state provides chargebacks for not only their traditional two-year degree programs, but also their four year Masters Degree programs.

Legislators have sought reform for some time in an effort to reform the law and close the four-year FIT loophole and alleviate both county and town financial burdens from chargebacks. According to figures dating back from 2012, FIT’s portion of county chargebacks came close to one million dollars.

In addition to the chargeback request, the committee also approved the acceptance of a total of $18,459.71 from insurance recoveries and anticipated FEMA funds for repair and recovery costs associated with a Sheriff’s marine unit boat damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The committee also approved the acceptance of an $11 million Community Development Block Grant for disaster recovery from Hurricanes Sandy and Irene. The grant is part of $1.7 billion in federal funds allotted for disaster recovery, which is primarily focused upon housing-related work.