BUFFALO, NY (Oct. 26) – Chris Jacobs, Erie County clerk and candidate for New York State Senate in the 60th District, announced today his plans to address a little-known policy in Erie County that is costing towns at the northern end of the county upwards of half-a-million dollars annually.
“When a student from Erie County attends a community college in another county, state law requires the home county to pay a portion of the tuition to the other county,” said Jacobs. “Many counties have lamented over this law and advocated for statewide reform. Erie County is one of the few counties in New York State to place 100% of these chargeback costs on local cities and towns.”
Jacobs said Erie County used to pay the chargeback costs, but during the Gorski Administration, they found a provision in State Education Law that allowed them to dump these costs on local governments.
“The towns most affected, of course, are the towns that are in closest proximity to other community colleges – the northernmost, easternmost and southernmost suburbs of Erie County,” said Jacobs. “In particular, Tonawanda and Grand Island are hammered by these pass-through costs every year, and it’s a huge burden on local taxpayers.”
Jacobs pointed out that last year the Town of Tonawanda paid nearly $800,000 in “chargeback costs” for its residents who attended out-of-county community colleges, a number that becomes even more prominent as the Town faces the loss of tax revenues from the closure of the Huntley power plant. In 2014, Grand Island paid nearly $550,000 dollars in chargebacks, constituting nearly 8 percent of the total town budget.
“These towns are paying 100% of the chargeback costs, but have no say in the quality of the education or programming at Erie Community College, which may be factors in students choosing to go elsewhere,” said Jacobs. “With local governments dealing with the property tax cap, unfunded state mandates, and in Tonawanda’s case millions in lost tax revenue due to the closing of Huntley plant, it is time for the County to pay its fair share of these costs.”
Jacobs says if elected to the state he will push to change the state law and require at least a minimum contribution amount from counties in regards to “chargeback costs.” As state senator, he would also propose an overhaul in the chargeback system since it pits community colleges against one another.
For more information on Chris Jacobs, and his campaign for New York State’s 60th Senate District, visit www.chrisjacobsforsenate.com. The 60th Senate District includes Grand Island, the City of Tonawanda, Town of Tonawanda, portions of the City of Buffalo and City of Lackawanna, Hamburg, Orchard Park, Evans and Brant.