MCCC millage renewal draws nearer

Volunteers from the college went door-to-door in 2016 to gain support for a maintenance and improvement millage.

This year, the pandemic changed that.

Instead, President Kojo Quartey visited various business, governmental, civic and political leaders to ask for their support.

In 2016, voters approved an 85-cent maintenance and improvement millage, with funds that helped improve campus, such as renovating the Founders Hall and the L Building.

The college is asking voters to renew that millage Nov. 3.

“That Student Success Center in the Founders Hall is the most significant project that we’ve worked on for the millage funds,” Quartey said.

If approved, this millage would raise $5.47 million for the college in 2021.

This renewal would not increase the amount of taxes being levied by the college, meaning taxes wouldn’t be increased from the continuing millage.

Quartey said the importance of the renewal is evident from what has already been accomplished with the funds so far.

“For me, in 2016, I knew what the millage could do,” Quartey said. “Now in 2020, I see what a millage can do.”

As for renovations planned in Phase 2, Quartey said two of the projects that would best help the community are the addition of the HVAC thermal system in the college’s Whitman Center Bedford campus, and the expansion of the Health Education Building.

“You think about the pandemic and who do we need now more than ever? Individuals in the field of health,” Quartey said.

With the help of some college staff, Quartey has gone to businesses in the county passing out flyers to support the millage.

Quartey named one particular MCCC student, Cameron Albring, and certain staff members who have helped in these endeavors: Cajetan D’Cunha, grant writer/coordinator; Peter Coomar, dean of Applied Science & Engineering Technology; Valerie Culler, director of Financial Aid; Linda Torbet, director of Human Resources; Penny Dorcey, executive assistant to the president and Board of Trustees; and  Joe Verkennes, director of Marketing and Communications.

“He’s done an enormous job with our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts,” Quartey said about Verkennes.

With this year’s circumstances, the support efforts have differed from back in 2016, being more reliant on social media outreach, Quartey said.

Before the 2016 vote to originally approve the millage, Quartey said flyers were handed to every household in the area.

“There was no corner of this county that I hadn’t walked during then, from Milan all the way down to the very corners of Erie and Bedford,” Quartey said. “And I had a handful of students that were helping, using maps to hand out materials.”

This year, Quartey has also attended and asked for support at various township and council meetings in the county.

He said the Democratic and Republican parties, county commissioners, city of Monroe and Monroe Charter Township support  the millage renewal.

Michael Bosanac, Monroe County Board of Commissioners Administrator, said the support was unanimous when Quartey mentioned Phase 2 at a commissioners meeting this month.

“Our board supported it from the standpoint of recognizing the value of education in our community that it trained and educated the skilled work force that is essential for economic development,” Bosanac said. “That’s what employers are going to look for.”

He also mentioned the various ways supporting this millage would help people reach greater career opportunities with upgraded technology at the college.

“For our citizens to be able to take advantage of the community college and the value added by educational institutions, I think it’s a no-brainer for us to work together,” Bosanac said.

Bedford Township Supervisor Paul Pirrone said  the Board of Trustees did not make a decision to support the millage at a township meeting where Quartey spoke.

“We don’t vote on millages as a board. It’s just not something our board does. I don’t think any government board does that,” Pirrone said. “Now I’m not saying the board doesn’t support it because I do. I’ve publicly said that I support the millage, but I can’t speak for the rest of the board.”

Quartey said support efforts have been positive, aside from one instance in Dundee where a member confronted Quartey about him saying he would not return to ask for support.

“I remember my exact words were, ‘I didn’t expect to,’” Quartey said.

He said the decision to renew the millage was only made within the last year, when the progress on campus was analyzed. The MCCC campus and Whitman Center could not sufficiently be upgraded in a 5 year period, with at least a 10 year period was needed to complete all planned projects.

“It is not my expectation at this time to be asking for more money in five years, but who knows what the future holds,” he said.

Quartey said a number of attendees at these council meetings had family members or themselves who had attended MCCC in the past.

“If there’s to be an increase of economic growth or economic opportunity, it’s going to be because of education,” Quartey said. “Who’s going to provide that? We are.”

Information about each project completed in Phase 1 of the initial Maintenance and Replacement Millage can be found at: www.monroeccc.edu/millage-updates.