Community college is seeking an 8.2 percent tuition increase
FREEHOLD, NJ – Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley today called for a public review of Brookdale Community College’s 2011-12 budget after learning about expensive memberships and a housing allowance for college President Peter F. Burnham.
“While I am appalled at the contract Dr. Burnham was given, I can’t help but wonder what other extravagances are in that budget,” said Curley, liaison to Brookdale. “It’s time we go through Brookdale’s budget line by line to see not just what the president is spending, but the other departments as well. A good hard look at waste in all public colleges and universities is long overdue.”
Last week, Brookdale’s Board of Trustees approved a $99,166,064 budget that contains an 8.2 percent tuition increase. Burnham blamed the need for the increase on a Board of Chosen Freeholders’ decision to reduce funding to Brookdale this year by $6 million. The freeholders had understood that Brookdale would be able to achieve the cut without resorting to a tuition increase.
Brookdale operates on a fiscal-year. Its budget, for 2011-12, must be approved by the freeholders when the Board of School Estimate meets sometime in March.
Burnham receives an annual salary of $216,000, but is allotted another $39,000 for annual memberships, an $18,000 housing allowance and a $27,000 vehicle.
“I will be voting no on Brookdale’s budget if it contains a tuition increase,” said Curley, who sits on the Brookdale Board of School Estimate. “It is offensive to me that Dr. Burnham is seeking a tuition increase or more county funding when taxpayers are subsidizing his housing costs and private club memberships. I don’t know how he can look students in the eyes and ask for more money.”
Curley noted that the freeholders are trying to get the county budget down to a point where there will be no tax increase this year. The county budget is separate from Brookdale’s budget.
“Freeholders and staff have been squeezing savings out of budgets in each of the last three years, and we are always looking for new revenue sources or alternate methods of paying for county services,” Curley said. “Brookdale, however, has chosen to raise tuition and blame the county for cutting its funding when the college is sitting on $13.8 million in surplus. It’s disgraceful.”