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By an 18-2 vote, Cattaraugus County legislators Wednesday approved a county share of $8.1 million toward an expanded campus of Jamestown Community College in downtown Olean.

The decision came after several hours of discussion by legislators and others concerning the $30 million project, which will change the face of downtown Olean.

The meeting was heavily attended, with students, school officials, business and civic leaders packing the legislative chambers.

The two opposing votes were by James Ellis, R-Otto, and Howard Zollinger, R-Randolph. Elliott Ellis, D-New Albion, was absent.

Majority Leader Mark S. Williams, R-Hinsdale, who led the support for the project, said, "We did the right thing," adding that the action affirmed affordable education for Cattaraugus County residents.

The county will pay $1 million this year toward the total sum, using money from a surplus account.

For the next three years, county payments will be $790,000, $831,000 and $957,000 in the form of bond-anticipation notes.

For the next 15 years, long-term bonds will be used. The county will repay the bonds with payments that begin at $525,000 and decrease to $396,000 the final year.

It will cost the county $2 million in interest over the 18-year project period.

Tobacco settlement money will be the source of funding as the county pays off the bonds. Not all the tobacco money anticipated by the county is being committed to pay off the bonds.

Legislators have yet to agree on how to use the balance of the money. Though they were given a resolution Wednesday to use the balance to reduce taxes each year, it was referred to committees for further study.

Legislators also agreed to a companion resolution, technically binding the county and Jamestown Community College Regional Board of Trustees to annual project subsidies over the next 18 years.

The college has selected Park Centre Development Co. of Olean to prepare the properties in the expansion site.

Park Centre will be paid $2.8 million to acquire 24 homes and eight businesses, with an additional $414,968 for demolition.

The school will acquire about 12 acres and is planning a 13,000-square-foot addition to an existing building at the site, and three new buildings totaling 112,000 square feet, for the new campus.

The school expects to increase enrollment by 220 full-time students, adding as many as 15 faculty members and expanding the current payroll of $2.6 million by $300,000.

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