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LAWMAKERS TOLD OF SAVINGS FROM NCCC REVAMP

The president of Niagara County Community College and representatives of a performance contract company gave county legislators a synopsis Monday night of how a contract with the company could save money.

College President Antonette J. Cleveland told members of the Legislature's Public Works, Human Resources, and Education and Finance committees that Johnson Controls of West Seneca is the firm that she recommends to complete a one-year revamping of the Sanborn campus, implementing energy upgrades that would pay off the cost of the contract through energy savings.

Cleveland said that an estimated savings of $394,000 annually would be paid to the company for a 15-year period. After that time, the college would realize the savings and put it into the master plan of the campus, she said.

"It allows us to do some things at NCCC that we would not normally be able to do," Cleveland said, citing an addition and partial renovation to the administration building, renovations throughout the student center and a major renovation to the culinary arts section of the campus.

Cleveland added that there would be plans to renovate the student activities area, as well as the central services area where vehicles and trucks are kept.

She asked members of the three committees to write down their questions about the contract and submit them to her. She said she hopes that the Legislature would agree in November to finalize the contract and the financing of the master plan.

Cleveland said that in 1993, the trustees came up with a $13 million master plan, which has since been pared to just over $7 million by the Legislature. So far, trustees at the college have spent about $1.6 million on a chiller and cooling tower, which leaves about $5.6 million for capital construction.

The reason that trustees at the college switched from going with a financing package from the State Power Authority to one from Johnson Controls was because the latter offered a guarantee on the savings, or a performance contract, she said. In addition, the Power Authority wanted to present a financing package of only 10 years in length, compared with 15 from Johnson Controls, she said.

Donald J. Seier, an account executive for Johnson Controls, said the cost of the capital project would equal $4.3 million, with a $5.9 million payback over 15 years. "It's a true 100 percent guarantee," he said.

There would be no tax increase to county taxpayers because the county would not have to pay anything initially, he added.

"It sounds so good with no tax increase," said Legislator Shirley Gregory Urtel, R-Cambria, chairwoman of the Finance Committee.

Sharon Sacco, director of management and budget for the county, said the project could still save the college money, even though there is an anticipated increase in the cost of electricity.

"The cost of electricity could still go up, and they wouldn't see those savings, but it would be cost avoidance," she said.

Members of the Legislature, which would ultimately be funding the project, were mixed in their reactions. Legislator Daniel L. Mocniak, D-Niagara Falls, a member of the Finance Committee, said he wants to see the contract in writing before giving any approvals. "I would like to see all these numbers," he said.

"It's interesting and it sounds good, but I would like to see more of the figures a little more detailed," he said. ". . . In a deal like this, sometimes the fees magically match the savings."

Legislator Gerald K. Farnham, R-Lockport, said, "I think the presentation was researched well, and it's a good, reliable company based on past experience. . . . Actually, it's something that the county should have been doing every five years or 10 years."

County Treasurer David S. Broderick said, "This is stuff that needs to be done. I mean, we haven't done anything for a number of years."

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