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Erie County Legislature adds more funding for Erie Community College

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz's $1.48 billion budget is expected to sail through the County Legislature with an assortment of amendments and changes from legislators – most notably, an additional $250,000 for Erie Community College.

That increase will become part of the county's permanent minimum contribution to the college in the future.

Both Legislature majority and minority leaders said the county needs to do more to shore up its support for ECC, which has struggled with declining enrollment and the loss of students to community colleges in neighboring counties.

"We can't keep looking to students and raising tuition to bridge the budgetary gap," said Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, C-West Seneca. "Erie County has to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to its priorities."

Minority Leader Thomas Loughran, D-Amherst, said the additional funding represents the Legislature's commitment to the new college president and new STEM building.

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Poloncarz praised the Legislature's changes to his 2018 budget proposal Monday, saying the Legislature's changes were made in negotiation and agreement with his office.

A final budget vote is set for Thursday.

“The minor alterations submitted before the Legislature today involve the re-allocation of approximately $1.5 million out of the nearly $1.7 billion county budget, and if passed in full as presented today without any further amendment, will be signed into effect by me," Poloncarz said in a statement. "I would like to thank the Legislature for the smooth, non-confrontational, businesslike deliberations they have conducted on the Proposed 2018 county budget and for the reasonable amendments they proposed as well."

Aside from the additional $250,000 for ECC, the proposal adds more staff to the District Attorney's Office, Comptroller's Office and County Clerk's Office. Poloncarz's office received an additional administrative assistant.

The agreement also adds or restores funding to a laundry list of legislator-supported community and cultural groups. To help offset the additional costs, the Legislature cut the addition of five full-time motor vehicle operators/snow plow drivers to the Department of Public Works.

The Legislature also took $500,000 from the county's legal risk retention fund. That account will have to be replenished with 2017 surplus money next year.

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