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Genesee County approves contribution to its Community College

By Mike Pettinella

Genesee Correspondent

BATAVIA – Genesee County’s share of the $39.9 million operating budget adopted by Genesee Community College for the 2015-16 academic year will prove beneficial, according to the county’s top executive.

“From the county’s perspective, it’s a good deal,” said County Manager Jay A. Gsell following Wednesday afternoon’s meeting of the Genesee County Legislature.

The Legislature voted to approve the county’s yearly contribution of $2.5 million, or 6.35 percent of the college’s budget.

“Technically speaking, it could have been one-third paid by the state, one-third by the county and one-third by students’ tuition,” Gsell said. “That is the old model, and some people in the state would like it to go that way again.”

As it stands now, Genesee County’s share is among the lowest of all the counties that support community colleges in New York State, Gsell noted.

“Genesee County has a unique relationship with GCC, one that helps us move forward on our financing of two of the college’s capital projects,” he said.

Those projects, scheduled for ground-breaking this summer, are a $24 million venture to construct a community wellness/event center and student success center as well as the renovation of the main building.

GCC has pledged $3 million toward the cost. The county’s share of those projects is $9.3 million while the state will provide the remaining $12 million of the funding.

Gsell said GCC has raised its tuition by about $25 per semester, which will offset some of the county’s net cost. He said the college has no significant impact on the county tax rate.

Legislator Frank C. Ferrando Jr., the county’s liaison to the GCC Board of Trustees, called the college a “tremendous asset” to the area.

“We’re so fortunate to have GCC in our county,” he said. “Supporting it is an absolute because we get paid back in spades.”

In other action, the Legislature:

• Ratified the terms of a contract with the Civil Service Employees Association-Nursing Home Bargaining Unit at the Genesee County Nursing Home. The three-year deal, which ends on Dec. 31, 2015, calls for no pay raises the first two years and a 2 percent increase this year. It affects about 165 employees. Genesee County is attempting to sell the facility to a private investor by the end of the year.

• Renewed an $85,000 grant from the state Department of Health for the county’s drinking water enhancement program for April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016.