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Plan for MCC Downtown Campus avoids hurdle

Posted at: 01/30/2013 11:39 PM
By: Lynette Adams

Plans to build a new $72-million dollar Monroe Community College Campus on State Street passed another hurdle Wednesday night.

The Monroe County Legislature's Ways and Means Committee gave its stamp of approval.

The owner of the Sibley Building, Gilbert Winn, came with another proposal promising to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Winn made a similar proposal back in the fall of 2011 when MCC began to make serious plans to move, but at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon the Winn Corporation handed lawmakers a 17 page proposal offering to save time and money.

Winn's proposal comes in at a whopping $18-million dollars less than the total cost of the new campus at Kodak on State Street.

“We actually were working diligently with the legislature and the mayor to create a bonding vote, that actually passed in December, to create a new open process," said Winn.

How does Winn plan to save this money?

“We'll replace the heating systems, we'll take out columns to make larger classrooms, but we don't actually demolish and rebuild something. Doing that saves $18-million dollars,” he said.

Despite this new proposal the Ways and Means Committee voted overwhelmingly to move forward with plans to build a new campus on State Street.

Carrie Andrews was the only Legislator to vote against that plan. She wanted to postpone a vote.

“We always want to make sure we get the best project that we can for the resources that we have and I think it's very important to choose what's going to be best, what we can most afford, what's going to meet our needs, and if there was a solution that could do that for $18-million dollars less, then yes, that certainly merits consideration,” said Andrews.

Majority Leader Anthony Daniele and the President of MCC Dr. Anne Kress see things differently.

News10NBC asked if people should be concerned that their lawmakers are not fiscally responsible or that they're not concerned about ways to save money.

"No. I think if there's anything that's been proven by this legislature, certainly by myself and members of the majority caucus, is that being fiscally conservative and being fiscally responsible is our number one priority. So we don't take anything lightly, especially an expenditure of close to $72-million dollars,” said Daniele.

“For it to come forward on the day of the committee meeting less than two hours before the committee, it gives you a lot of pause. So I think, from our perspective it's not really a serious proposal,” said Kress.

Andrews says her dissenting vote was prompted by questions about the financing. The state has pledged to pay $36-million of the project, which is half of the total cost.

However, $11-million dollars that was expected this year, was not appropriated in the state budget for 2013.

Another $12-million dollars is coming from the Renaissance Square project that never materialized. That award will have to be renamed in order for the county to get it and use it for the Downtown campus.

The full County Legislature will likely vote on the MCC proposal, including the Winn proposal, in early February.