Emily Vu / Sun Multimedia Editor

Following a rally advocating for Cornell to increase annual contributions to Ithaca, the City of Ithaca Common Council voted on the proposed $4 million payment to the city.

October 10, 2023

Following Tension, Common Council to Vote on Cornell’s Proposed Financial Contributions to Ithaca

Print More

The Ithaca Common Council will cast their votes on the proposed $4 million annual payment in lieu of taxes payment from Cornell University to the City of Ithaca, with provisions for yearly adjustments to account for inflation, on Oct. 11.

Cornell’s annual payment to the city presently stands at $1.6 million, a figure stipulated by a memorandum of understanding set to expire in 2024. In September, the University and the City of Ithaca stalled negotiations over disagreements for a renewed contract.

Following the announcement about the pause in negotiations, The Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America held a rally and march to demand an increased annual contribution of $8 million from The University. Cornell faculty and City of Ithaca Common Council members were in attendance at the rally. 

In a Sep. 28 press release, the Ithaca Public Workers Coalition noted support for increased contributions from the University. Founded in 2022, the IPWC strives to address certain community issues, such as low staffing in city departments, deteriorating city infrastructure, homelessness and Ithaca’s diminished police presence.

Recently, the IPWC has been actively engaged in discussions with Cornell University aimed at finding a resolution to the ongoing issue of increasing the funds allocated by the University to the city, according to the press release. In the press release, Thomas Condzella ’08, president of the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association, asserted that Cornell bears a responsibility not only to its student body but also to the broader Ithaca community. Condzella believes that reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with the city is imperative.

“Our community and the working class shouldn’t have to suffer because of a disagreement between the City of Ithaca and the Cornell University administration,” Condzella said in the IPWC’s statement. “There has to be a resolution that both parties can agree to, that is more considerate of our community.  Cornell needs to take into account who is really being affected here; it’s their own faculty, students and staff. It’s the working class in Ithaca and the greater community we serve.” 

On Oct. 4, members of faculty also published a letter to The Sun in support for increased contributions from the University. The letter — signed by over 100 faculty members — cited how faculty members are also residents of the City of Ithaca and surrounding Tompkins County communities.

“These communities should not be separated based on their well-being and standards of living,” the letter said. “As long as Cornell continues to exempt itself from its social responsibilities, to believe that unlike other major employers and property owners it can set for itself the terms upon which this responsibility is met, Cornell makes our communities separate and decidedly unequal.” 

The Common Council will vote on the MOU on Tuesday at their 6 p.m. budget meeting in Council Chambers. There will be no public comments section, according to the Common Council meeting agenda.

Gabriel Muñoz ’26 contributed writing.