By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers have given a preliminary OK to North Country Community College’s new budget, but not without some dissent.
Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) cast the lone negative vote at this week’s Ways and Means session of the County Board of Supervisors, saying the school is doing things that go beyond its mission of providing an affordable two-year college education to residents of Essex and Franklin counties.
Hatch disagreed with plans the college has for a welcome center at its main campus in Saranac Lake.
“The issue in Saranac Lake is opening a visitor center. That’s not the intent of a community college. That’s not in the best interest of what community colleges are for.”
NCCC wants to partner with Rabideau Corp., the construction company owned by Saranac Lake Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau, to build a college welcome center on Lake Flower Avenue, near the entrance to the institution.
The welcome center would house the college’s admissions and financial-aid offices on the first level, with student registration and bursar’s offices and a conference room on the second floor.
NCCC President Steven Tyrell, who was at the Ways and Means meeting, said during a recess that he doesn’t feel the college is straying from its mission.
“I’d have to disagree. Community colleges are the best opportunity, the best price. We want the best prepared workforce.”
The welcome-center idea is used by other colleges, he said.
“It’s not uncommon,” Tyrell said. “There’s nothing new there.”
He said the college is trying to position itself as a first choice for many students.
“We’re not at the back door anymore.”
FINAL VOTE MONDAY
The board approved the new NCCC budget of $14.6 million by a 15-1 vote, which includes county-sponsor shares of $1.14 million each for Essex and Franklin, the same as last year. Each would also contribute $50,000 for the college’s capital fund.
Only Hatch voted no. Supervisors Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) and Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) were absent.
The final vote is at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5, in the Old County Courthouse in Elizabethtown.
The Franklin County Legislature will hold its public hearing on the NCCC budget at 11 a.m. today at the County Courthouse in Malone.
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