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Southwest Dutchess Daily Voice serves Beacon, East Fishkill, Fishkill, LaGrange, Poughkeepsie, Wappinger & Wappingers Falls

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Letter To The Editor: FIT Chargebacks Are Unnecessary Burden On Taxpayers

Send letters to southwestdutchess@dailyvoice.com
Send letters to southwestdutchess@dailyvoice.com Photo Credit: File

Daily Voice accepts signed and original letters to the editor up to 350 words. To send a letter, e-mail southwestdutchess@dailyvoice.com.

New York has a higher cost of living and doing business than other states. Our Chamber is always looking to curb this phenomena.

We invest in educating our youth, and the majority of talent doesn’t stay local. One reason: high cost of living. If we can address root causes, we can compete— creating jobs, encouraging talent to stay local.

One potential target: Fashion Institute of Technology chargebacks. While FIT is an asset, it’s unfairly deemed a community college. As a result, county government is mandated to pay partial tuition reimbursement for students attending school from their respective counties. While this is true for all community colleges, FIT does not fit the community college definition.

FIT offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees. A true community college only offers associate's degrees. A six-year student costs hometown taxpayers nearly $70,000. For non-New York City residents in 2015-16, FIT was reimbursed over $11,000, almost three times higher than other community colleges.

Unfunded mandates are increasingly egregious, and holding local governments responsible for FIT chargebacks exacerbates the problem – increasing property taxes.

In his recent budget address, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro said Dutchess will see a 23 percent increase in FIT chargebacks or $1.3 million in 2018.

It’s no wonder change hasn’t happened when FIT President Dr. Joyce Brown is the wife of SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall. Conflict of interest? Nepotism?

FIT is not a community college and should be removed from such designation. It creates an unfair advantage and burden on taxpayers.

Frank M. Castella, Jr. President & CEO Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce

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