ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County lawmakers have given preliminary approval to North Country Community College's proposed 2012-13 budget.
The budget cleared the county's Ways & Means Committee by a 16-1 vote on Monday; it now heads to the full Board of Supervisors for a final vote on Monday.
Franklin County lawmakers approved the budget earlier this month. The college covers both counties and gets equal funding from each of them, in addition to state funds and tuition revenue.
The total proposed budget is about $13.63 million. Each county would contribute $1.19 million.
No one spoke about the proposed budget during a public hearing held in the old Essex County courthouse before Monday's committee meeting. Willsboro town Supervisor Ed Hatch was the only lawmaker opposed to the budget. He said he wants officials to discuss the possibility of a merger between NCCC and Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh.
"I've advocated this for a number of years," Hatch said. "I still think these schools should be considering to merge. We cannot keep running all of these high schools and these colleges and everything else."
NCCC President Steve Tyrell said he appreciates that both counties are careful to look at revenue streams and expenditures before signing off on the college's budget.
"They've got to look at everything closely," he said. "I appreciate them being good stewards for the people that they represent. We have the same obligation to do so."
Tyrell said "for the contribution from the county," taxpayers are supporting quality education at a value that is hard to find.
"I've worked in a lot of different systems," he said, "and I've got to tell you: I'm absolutely amazed and pleased and elated at the quality education people get from North Country Community College."
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.