Stung by rumors that Erie Community College's North Campus is for sale, the ECC Board of Trustees took two strong steps Wednesday.
It unanimously approved a resolution stating that the North Campus "is not marked or targeted for sale, partial sale of any similar disposition" and that the board "has no plans or contingencies before it for sale or other partial disposition" of any of its campuses."
The board also passed a resolution authorizing a controversial institutional assessment that some county legislators have claimed would pave the way for the sale or lease of college land.
Only ECC Trustee Raymond F. Gallagher opposed the latter resolution, which challenges the county's control over the college's funds.
"Since the Erie County Legislature failed to vote on commencement of the institutional assessment," the resolution reads in part, the ECC board "directs the president of ECC to enter into contract with Resultants International," the Williamsville firm that will perform the 12-month, $384,000 assessment.
The study, endorsed by County Executive Joel A. Giambra, was rejected earlier this month by the County Legislature's Community Enrichment Committee, which oversees the college.
Though ECC officials said then that they would go forward with the institutional assessment without the Legislature's approval, a county statute prohibits the college from entering into any contract more than $10,000 until it is approved by the Legislature.
"It is the opinion of the county attorney that we still require the Legislature's approval to enter into the contract," said ECC's chief administrative and financial officer, William D. Reuter. "But the county executive says to pursue it."
The funds are already included in ECC's 2000-01 operating budget.
In other business, student trustee Michael R. Santoro briefed the board on a recent meeting he had with Giambra to discuss the concern of ECC students that Erie County, as sponsor of the college, does not contribute its fair share.
State law recommends that a county pay at least 26.7 percent of the operating budget at a full-access community college like ECC, Santoro noted. Erie County is paying 22 percent this year.
"The county executive said he would be willing to raise the contribution to the 26.7 percent during his term in office," Santoro said. "He said he would like me to continue to dialogue with him and that he would meet with all the students if necessary."
Santoro is also ECC student government president, representing students on all three campuses. He has more than 1,000 signatures on a petition asking ECC students if they would support the Student Government Association in a lawsuit against the county over the money.