Supervisors debate support for SUNY Adirondack

A handful of Washington County Supervisors are questioning whether the county should continue to sponsor SUNY Adirondack even as the number of local students attending the institution increases.

Warren and Washington Counties sponsor the college and each makes a monetary contribution based on representative student enrollment.

SUNY Adirondack’s proposed operational budget would see the county’s contribution increase by slightly more that $54,000, bringing the total amount Washington County gives the college to $1,315,658. Warren County’s total contribution would be $1,852,623, an increase of only $8,085.

But earlier this month, a few officials openly questioned whether the deal is better for Warren County because students are spending their money in Queensbury and Glens Falls, increasing Warren County’s sales tax revenue; a benefit that may become even more pronounced with the opening of the college’s new dormitory next fall.

Washington County currently doesn’t receive any sales tax revenue that is generated by student spending in Warren County.

“When you look at the breakdown of students, its almost 50/50 between Warren and Washington Counties but all the students are spending their money in Warren County. It’s a tremendous benefit for them,” Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff said.

Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said it’s unfortunate that Warren County reaps all the tax benefits but said he doesn’t anticipate Washington County discontinuing its support of the college.

In fact, some members of the county’s Community College committee, which includes Hicks, have openly voiced their support for the school.

Whitehall Supervisor George Armstrong, whose daughter graduated from SUNY Adirondack (then ACC), said he would oppose any measure that would result in the county revoking its support.

“I believe we need to be heavily involved in ACC as a county. It’s very important to our people and it saves local families lots of money. I think we should increase our involvement, not decrease it. Now if something is out of line and the county is paying more then we should address it, but I would oppose any withdrawal,” Armstrong said.

Haff said he has yet to make a decision either way but believes a more thorough analysis of the costs and benefits of sponsoring the school should be considered.

Even if Washington County revoked its support, it likely wouldn’t result in an immediate cost savings.

Counties typically charge other counties fees for non-resident students who attend junior colleges outside of their home county. Washington County, for instance, paid more than $312,000 to Rensselaer County for students who attended Hudson Valley Community College.

Based on the number of local students enrolled at SUNY Adirondack, Washington County would pay nearly the same amount in charge backs as it does to sponsor the college.

The only benefit of revoking its sponsorship would be to remove the county’s liability when it comes to future capital projects, such as the construction of new facilities.

College administrators have discussed building a new science and engineering building and early estimates have tabbed the cost of constructing such a facility between $30 million and $50 million.

But revoking the sponsorship would eliminate the county’s influence in the decision making process.

The board of supervisors will hold a public meeting on SUNY Adirondack’s budget at 10 a.m. on July 19.

Invasive species ban not dead

Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said a law that would ban the transport of invasive species is likely to be revisited.

Last month, the board of supervisors narrowly defeated a law that would have made the transport of invasive species illegal within Washington County.

A number of supervisors were concerned that the environmental impact of passing such a law had not been given enough thought and that it could hurt some recreational pursuits in the county. 

The law was revisited earlier this month by the Government Operations Committee but members said concerns.

Hicks said if officials can address everyone’s concerns, the law could be brought back to the floor.

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