Sullivan college budget slashed; lawmakers suggest “change in leadership”
Over 80 supporters turned out to praise the college and ask lawmakers not to cut its budget.
It was a special meeting of the Sullivan County Government Services Committee at the government center in Monticello on May 12, and the task was to determine the level of funding for Sullivan County Community College (SCCC).
Facing a $13 million deficit next year, county lawmakers had previously proposed cutting the county’s share from $4 million to $3.6 million.
Student Douglas Smith said to lawmakers, “If you were to cut these funds, wouldn’t you in effect be punishing an institution that celebrates diversity, is achieving academically and giving the people of this county something to look forward to? I ask you to reconsider the cuts, perhaps you should be looking to reward this college.”
Others speakers hinted that this cut might force the college to close, and that would be a crippling blow to the county.
But county lawmakers were having none of it. Several said that no one wanted to cut the college’s budget, but the fiscal realties facing the county leave them with no choice.
A couple of the lawmakers, however, had harsh words for the college’s leadership. Lawmaker Ron Hiatt said he did not want to “break faith” with the rest of the county employees, who have suffered lay-offs and cuts year after year, while the college funding remained at the same level.
He also said he and his peers had been seeking cooperation from the college for years, and had never received it. He noted that a special meeting had been scheduled to talk about the budget two weeks prior and “no one from the college showed up.”
“We begged the leadership of the college to change how they do things; they won’t change, maybe it’s not a bad idea that there be change in the leadership. I don’t know what else to do,” he said.
The change in the leadership language was a reference to a resolution proposed by perennial college critic Ken Walter who suggested that county lawmakers make a “no confidence” vote regarding SCCC president Mamie Golladay. Walter said such a move was merited by such things as the loss of $2 million because of a bad investment with a company that was supposed to have built a windmill for the college, but never did.
Lawmaker David Sager said those “losses far outweigh the cuts that we are suggesting.” He said that the people who had turned out to support the college should travel to Albany because state funding for SCCC is supposed to run about 33% of the budget, but in actuality only reaches about 15%. Sager concluded by saying that, in the future, “I would like to visit Mr. Walter’s proposed resolution and take it into consideration.”
The committee voted unanimously to cut the budget, and the move is expected to be adopted by the full board on May 17.