ELIZABETHTOWN — North Country Community College’s new $14.6 million budget is now official.
No one from the public spoke at a public hearing this week, and the Essex County Board of Supervisors passed the budget, 16-1, with Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) opposed and Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport) absent.
Hatch said he voted against the budget because it includes a welcome-center project at the college’s main campus in Saranac Lake, and he feels the plan as proposed is inappropriate and circumvents competitive bidding laws.
NCCC intends to partner with Cedar Ridge Holdings Inc., a company primarily owned by local contractor and Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, to build a welcome center on Lake Flower Avenue, near the entrance to the institution.
The new building 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.
Once the welcome center is built, Rabideau would sell it to the college, NCCC President Dr. Steven Tyrell said during a break in the recent meeting.
The welcome center was also questioned last week by Franklin County Legislator Paul Mauron (R-Tupper Lake), who said he feels the undertaking may be improper.
Tyrell said the public-private partnership was something the college was considering and that the project could be changed if necessary. He said it has been done at other colleges and has been vetted by legal counsel.
The Franklin County Legislature unanimously approved the college budget last week.
Sponsor contributions for 2013-14 remain at the same level as this year: $1.14 million each for Essex and Franklin counties and $50,000 each for the college’s capital-improvement fund.
NCCC has campuses in Saranac Lake, Malone and Ticonderoga.
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