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Cayuga CC Board of Trustees does not award contracts for downtown theater project, approves 2012-13 budget

DATE: 06-20-2012

Due to a recent state appellate court ruling that Cayuga County would need to conduct a new State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process at the former Kalet building site on State Street, the Cayuga Community College Board of Trustees rejected the bids for construction of the Schwartz Family Performing Arts Center during its regular monthly meeting on June 20. The board did approve the proposed $32.36 million 2012-13 budget, representing a 5.19 percent increase from last year’s budget.

“Because of the recent court action requiring that the county perform its own SEQR process and the uncertainty that this creates, the College is unable to award bids for the construction of the Schwartz Family Performing Arts Center at this time,” said Dr. Daniel P. Larson, College president.

The College received two rounds of bids for general construction, roofing, glazing, fire protection, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical work on the planned 384-seat theater building on State Street in Auburn. The first set of bids are set to expire on June 23, and the second round of bids expire at the end of July. However, the court’s order to complete a new SEQR review will not allow bids to be accepted in the allotted timeframe.

“The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival and the College remain committed to the project and anticipate that the Performing Arts Center will be successfully completed,” Larson said.

In late 2010, the College and the Musical Theatre Festival agreed on a 25-year plan to develop and share the new performance and multi-use space that will be used by the festival as one of four venues for its shows in the summer and by the College throughout the remainder of the year for classes, meetings, and campus events. 

The festival's annual economic impact, through ticket sales, dining, lodging and related activity, is projected by the organizers at approximately $30 million. In addition, the partnership with the festival will help the College attract theatre students through expanded learning and production opportunities, while assisting the entire region as it becomes a cultural destination for high-quality shows ranging from experimental to classic.

In other action, the board approved the proposed budget, which calls fora 3.4 percent, or approximately $130 a year, increase in tuition. If the budget is approved by Cayuga County next month, the 2012-13 annual tuition will be $3,950 for full-time students, and the part-time rate will be $160 per credit. The student fees remain unchanged.

Tuition accounts for 45.64 percent of College revenue. This year, the state restored $150 per full-time equivalent (FTE) in funding, after having cut funding by nearly $2 million over the past three years. The SUNY Community College presidents had lobbied for a $205 per FTE increase for the next five years to bring the state contribution back up to one-third of the operational budgets of community colleges, as it had committed to do when SUNY community colleges were created 40 years ago.

Approximately 87 percent of the budget is non-discretionary, including such items as heating, electrical, water, insurance, rent, and employee salary and benefit contractual obligations.

The College expects to draw $337,088 from its fund balance to help cover expenses in the coming year. College officials had to deny $1.5 million in budget requests from managers, and operation expenses are budgeted to be approximately 1 percent higher than last year.

The proposed budget will be presented to the Cayuga County Legislature in July for approval.