The Montgomery County Commissioners have approved their contribution to a community college budget that calls for more than $80 million in spending for the fiscal year starting Thursday, July 1. Chairman Jim Matthews says the county share of a little over $17,700, is $500,000 higher than it was in the last budget. He says it’s the first increase in three years, at a cost to the taxpayers of $4.16 per student, and that’s a far cry from the $144 full-time students are paying in higher tuition.
“Four dollars and 16 cents doesn’t come close to $144 by any measure, so it’s wrong what we’re asking the students to do, but it’s a fact of life that we’re trying to minimize expense, so I’m very comfortable with my vote to increase the county outlay.”
He says the cost was supposed to be split evenly, with the county, state and students each paying one third, but the county has been paying less than that for a long time.
“For time immemorial we never paid the full third. From the very get-go we were only about 31 percent, and it’s drifted down to where we’re about 27 percent now, and that’s wrong.”
Matthews says the state has also paid less than its share from the start, and the students end up paying 44 to 45 percent of the cost. Matthews and Commissioner Bruce Castor voted for the higher allocation to the college, while Vice Chairman Joe Hoeffel voted against it, saying the county faces a very tough budget year and now is not the time to be spending more, even though the college provides a valuable service. (College President Karen Stout is pictured above.)