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County Legislature Withholds $100,000 in ECC Funds to Protest Raises

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County Legislature says that $70,000 of raises for ECC top administrators are out of line. Lawmakers did approve the college's budget Tuesday. But they held out $100,000 from ECC's $15.4 million subsidy.

In order to collect that money, lawmakers say the college must rescind its management pay increases. ECC officials argue the raises are merited, and the county wasn't asked for any more money to pay for them. They also say they're still waiting for the county to fund nearly $4 million in needed capital repairs. William Reuter, ECC's Chief Financial Officer, said they might just have to close the older City Campus to end some of the money questions.

"We're all adults. Hopefully, we're making the tough choices for the right reasons," Reuter said. "In a perfect world, we'd like to have more than three campuses to provide the services our students want, need and desire. Who knows. Hopefully, it won't come to that."

Later, Reuter couldn't say what impact, if any, the money lawmakers decided to hold back would have on operations. Still, Democratic Majority Leader Lynn Marinelli says the mere threat of closing the City Campus is out of line. Besides, she says, it was an empty threat, since the master course schedule was already sent out.

"They can't all of a sudden decide in six month that there will be no more City Campus," Marinelli said. "There would have to be a whole process involving the State Education Department and SUNY to change anything. So, when they throw that out there, it's to get the public all excited. It's wrong. It can't happen that way."

As for the capital spending, Marinelli says ECC will just have to get in line like everyone else waiting to see if any projects get funded.