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FMCC gets nod to move forward with capital projects

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton-Montgomery Community College has received the necessary approvals to move forward this year on a revised capital project focused on health and safety. But plans for a capital project next year at the college are now in doubt over local funding constraints related to the impacts of the coronavirus.

FMCC was notified this month that the State University of New York and the state Division of Budget approved plans for the college’s 2020 health and safety capital projects, Trustee James Landrio reported to the Board of Trustees on Thursday.

The college over the summer revised plans for this year’s capital project after learning that the state would only provide matching funds for projects related to health and safety due to the financials impacts of the coronavirus.

Original capital project plans for this year were to include creation of a new financial technology classroom and the final phase of renovations to the college’s science labs. The state was expected to cover half of the cost of the projects with local matching funds for the financial technology classroom to be provided by the FM Foundation while Fulton and Montgomery counties were each to provide a quarter of the funding for the science lab renovations.

The college subsequently revised this year’s plans, proposing to move up the timeline for health and safety projects that were planned for inclusion in the 2021 capital project.

The new slate of projects include replacement of the college’s obsolete fire alarm system, refurbishment of the outdated HVAC chiller system serving O’Connell Hall and installation of a monitoring alarm in the school’s wastewater treatment plant as mandated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The total estimated cost of the projects is $500,000.

Both the Fulton County Board of Supervisors and the Montgomery County Legislature approved the college’s revised capital project plan over the summer, committing to providing local matching funds if the project received state approval and the other half of the funding.

With the revised capital project now approved by the state, FMCC officials plan to immediately begin related activities to secure contracts and determine project timelines.

In related news, FMCC Acting President Greg Truckenmiller on Thursday reported to the board that the college has received notification that Fulton County recently rejected all capital project proposals for 2021 due to the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus.

“So that’s not just specific to the college, but any of their department requests for capital projects were not approved. They’re taking a very conservative and cautious approach as they move into their next budget year,” said Truckenmiller.

After revising and receiving approval for this year’s capital project plans, the college was advised by the state to similarly revise plans for 2021 and future years to potentially secure matching state funding to cover half of project costs. FMCC subsequently revised plans to focus on data center and HVAC control obsolescence upgrades.

The college’s updated capital project plans for 2021 were sent to both county sponsors, but the lack of support to provide a portion of the local matching funds by Fulton County due to current economic conditions puts FMCC’s plans for next year at a standstill.

Following the decision by the county, Truckenmiller reportedly contacted Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead to affirm that the college is prepared to move forward on capital project planning at a later date if financial conditions change and county officials determine the necessary funds are available to provide the local match.

“We have our plan, if things change, we’re ready to go, so hopefully conditions will change and they’re able to make a different decision later on,” said Truckenmiller.

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