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Ithaca, Cornell University negotiators draft 20-year funding agreement

Negotiators with the city of Ithaca and Cornell University have come to a preliminary funding agreement, but it still needs to pass through the Ithaca Common Council.
Vaughn Golden
Negotiators with the city of Ithaca and Cornell University have come to a preliminary funding agreement, but it still needs approval from the Ithaca Common Council.

Cornell University and the city of Ithaca are moving forward with a preliminary funding agreement for the next 20 years, but it still has to clear some hurdles.

Under the preliminary agreement, Cornell would contribute $4 million to the city each year for the next 20 years, as adjusted for inflation. That’s an increase from the $1.6 million the university contributes currently.

Negotiators with Cornell and the city met in the middle of their previous proposals of $3.1 million and $5 million respectively.

Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis said she’s happy with the preliminary agreement.

"I'm grateful that we were able to move the needle and come to an agreement that I think serves our residents tremendously well,” Lewis said.

The agreement needs approval from the Ithaca Common Council, which is slated to vote on the deal Wednesday.

"I expect questions, perfectly understandably,” Lewis said. “I had many one-on-one phone calls to answer whatever questions I was able to over the weekend since this agreement."

Cornell’s Board of Trustees also must sign off on the agreement.

Local efforts like the Make Cornell Pay campaign have been calling for more investment by Cornell, including making the university fund free public transit, reparations for Black residents, and affordable housing developments.

Ithaca’s Democratic Socialists of America is planning a rally on Cornell’s campus Monday calling for the council to reject the deal.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.