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Audit Finds Erie Community College President was Overpaid

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A county audit released Wednesday on Erie Community College found few squabbles with the college's day-to-day financial operations. But the audit did find ECC's president was paid more than he was entitled to.

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Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz said he is pleased a three month-long review of the college's books found only minor errors in accounting and payroll.

Poloncarz said ECC officials have already accepted and implemented most of the remedies suggested by auditors.

But Poloncarz said there is one larger, outstanding issue. He said the audit uncovered roughly $37,000 of compensation for the college president that he's not entitled to.

Polancarz said the overpayment relates to claimed and unclaimed compensation time. According to auditors, the contracts for President William Mariani and other senior administration do not allow for compensation time.

Poloncarz said it is a problem with job titles and conflicting contract language, rather than a deliberate effort to defraud. The audit recommends that any money already paid to the president for compensatory time be returned, and that his current balance for compensatory time yet unpaid be reduced to zero.

Addditionally, Poloncarz said the president's contract should be completely rewritten to eliminate future ambiguities and conflicts of the terms.

Mariani defered comment to Katherine Felschow, the public relations official for ECC. Felschow said the college is pleased that there were no major findings in the report. She added that Mariani has no comment on matters pertaining to his salary, which is part of his contract with the board of trustees and not within his control.

According to Poloncarz, Mariani has agreed to give back roughly $4,500 mistakenly overpaid in bonuses.

Mariani's salary, which is more than $185,000 annually, has been a contentious issue with the legislature.

Last year lawamkers tried to block Mariani's $19,000 raise, as well as raises for other top ECC administration, by withholding some county funding.

Polonacarz said the audit is not intended to be a political tool.

The college and its board have 30 days to respond to the legislature on the audit. ECC receives county funding, however, operates as an independent entity and is not required to accept the audit recommendations.