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Niagara Legislature commits $10 million to NCCC project

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature committed itself Tuesday to spending $10 million on the $25-million Learning Commons project at Niagara County Community College.

The state announced two months ago that it would pay half the cost, with the county paying the other half. But Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, who also serves on the NCCC board, said the college “has been given a direction to raise an additional $2.5 million.”

NCCC President James P. Klyczek said two months ago that the NCCC Foundation would be responsible for raising part of the local share of the project, which calls for covering a courtyard beside the library, making it an atrium, while remodeling the library and classrooms adjacent to the courtyard. Work is expected to be complete in two or three years.

The Legislature also ratified the 2015-16 NCCC budget. The $50-million spending plan, the bottom line of which is nearly the same as this year’s, includes a tuition increase of $36 per semester, to $1,980. For a full-time, full-year student, the increase is $72, to $3,960. The county’s share of the budget is $8.87 million for the ninth consecutive year.

Also facing budgetary issues is the Social Services Department, where caseloads in Child Protective Services are growing at a record pace.

The Legislature agreed Tuesday to keep two caseworkers on the job who were going to be laid off at the end of June because of a cutoff of federal Head Start grants to the county. Instead, one will be placed in Child Protective Services and the other in adult protection to deal with elder abuse.

Legislators also voted to pass out revenue from the county’s share of Seneca Niagara Casino profits to the municipalities – except for Niagara Falls. Some already had received the grants from money the county collected in the first nine months of last year. Tuesday’s votes passed out money from the rest of 2014. The total sent to the cities and towns so far is $691,974, which is 75 percent of the county share for 2014.

The other 25 percent was placed into a separate fund, which the Legislature has been doling out in small amounts to community groups.

Tuesday’s payments were $2,900 to the Sweeney Hose Company and $1,800 to the TNT Gateway Market, both in North Tonawanda; $2,500 each to the Newfane Historical Society and the Pirates Festival in Olcott; and a total of $3,500 to six groups in Pendleton: $1,000 for the town Historical Society and $500 each to the Lions Club, Scout Troop 47, the Wendelville Seniors, Pendleton Seniors and the Wendelville Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary.

Niagara Falls receives its own share of money from revenue at the Seneca Niagara Casino.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com