Cornell reaches landmark agreement with City of Ithaca

Cornell will provide a $4 million annual voluntary contribution to the City of Ithaca – an increase of $2.4 million – under a long-term extension of their Memorandum of Understanding approved Oct. 11 by the Ithaca Common Council and Oct. 13 by the executive committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees.

The revised agreement takes effect immediately and continues until June 2039. It replaces the agreement negotiated in 2003, which was set to expire in June 2024. Cornell’s voluntary contribution will be adjusted for inflation each year and city officials will have broad discretion over how to invest the funds, 80% of which will be unrestricted. The remainder will support city infrastructure and other priority projects of mutual interest.

In addition to its increased voluntary contribution to the city, Cornell will continue to dedicate more than $26 million each year to support critical community priorities such as Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) bus service; the Ithaca City School District, a contribution recently increased by 30%; the Community Housing Development Fund; numerous local nonprofits, including a new partnership with the Child Development Council; and a range of municipal-like services supporting the Ithaca campus, such as public safety, snow removal, sidewalk construction and paving.

The university also will provide a $100,000 annual grant for a Cornell faculty member to collaborate with the city on issues such as sustainability.

“The city and the university are interconnected partners who collaborate frequently for the benefit of our shared community,” said President Martha E. Pollack. “We look forward to continuing that collaboration.”

Joel M. Malina, vice president for university relations, thanked the Common Council and the city and university teams who met over several months to negotiate the MOU.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Common Council for approving this agreement and appreciate all who were involved in the negotiations that enabled us to reach this historic moment,” Malina said. “This hard work and dedication strengthens the relationship between the city and Cornell, and these growing resources will benefit Ithaca residents for years to come.”

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Rebecca Valli