ONE OF THE recommendations in the SCCC Master Facilities Plan is to turn Building A (the Jesse Farrow Building) into a “one-stop shop” that includes Admissions/Registrar as well as Billing and Financial Aid. Currently, only the Admissions Dept. is located in this section of the Loch Sheldrake campus.
Legislature Unhappy With SCCC Request
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO December 11, 2007 Sullivan County Community College President Mamie Howard Golladay pitched a five-year, $50 million master plan at the Government Center in Monticello on Thursday.
It included the caveat that the county would not have to commit a dime to any project if it didn’t want to.
County legislators didn’t buy it.
While further discussions will be held at this Thursday’s Executive Committee meeting of the County Legislature, it was quite clear last week that money is tight and county leaders are still smarting over past college decisions.
“If SUNY came in with their $25 million, we couldn’t come up with our $25 million,” remarked Legislator Jonathan Rouis, referring to the fact that the county is legally bound to fund half of every capital project at SCCC.
In fact, Rouis doubted the county could even produce $1 million in light of costly mandated efforts like the county jail and landfill.
Stating that the campus “is still crumbling,” Golladay replied, “You do not plan for $1 million when you know $1 million is not what your needs are.”
She added that the price tag was partially a result of increasing costs and the fact that not everything in the $30 million master plan of 1996 had been completed.
But legislators were not convinced that a $50 million plan that includes entrance enhancements, a relocated boardroom, a black box theatre, and a “one-stop shopping” area for admissions and financial aid was as necessary as Golladay said.
“I’m kind of sitting here surprised,” remarked Legislator Ron Hiatt, who expressed concern that college leadership had not consulted with the Legislature before asking for a hasty approval.
Golladay said the rush was because the master plan was supposed to be filed with SUNY by November 30, and a campus emergency kept her from attending the November legislative meeting where she planned to give her presentation.
She disputed legislators’ accusation that county officials had not been made aware of the document until just recently. In fact, she contended that county government had been given preliminary versions of the plan as early as May.
But the biggest issue was the legislators’ belief that SUNY and SCCC would consider approval of this master plan as de facto support of every project.
“It’s difficult later to explain to SUNY why we reneged on funding,” agreed Assistant County Attorney Tom Cawley, advising legislators it would not be prudent to approve a plan that they didn’t intend to fund.
Golladay tried to assuage those concerns by pointing out that approval did not obligate the county to fund anything in the master plan, but Legislator Leni Binder, whose district encompasses the Loch Sheldrake campus, replied that past administrations and boards had entered into contracts without county approval, leaving legislators in an awkward position.
Indeed, County Treasurer Ira Cohen called such actions “a major disconnect” and warned legislators that he wasn’t even sure the county could pay for the cost of the state-mandated new jail.
“You’re going to have to prioritize,” he told them.
“The county has extremely limited revenues,” agreed County Manager David Fanslau. “And the horizon does not look that much better.”
While the Center for Advanced Sciences and Technology (CAST) Building has already gotten a $7.5 million commitment from the county (to be matched by SUNY), legislators seemed disinclined to give much more.
Golladay lamented that Sullivan County will likely join a large list of other counties unable to tap into $265 million in matching funds sitting in SUNY’s bank account.
“The system in SUNY is broken,” she admitted. “It is the worst system of capital funding I’ve ever seen, and it has to be fixed.”
So what will happen to the master plan if the Legislature does not approve it?
“I’ll just send it up to SUNY, and they can do with it what they want,” she said.