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Suffolk Community College trustees trim their own spending

Trustees of Suffolk County Community College have curtailed

Trustees of Suffolk County Community College have curtailed their spending for food, conferences and mileage. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Suffolk County Community College trustees, who convinced County Executive Steve Bellone to raise the county contribution to the college budget, took steps to last week to curtail their own expenses.

Trustees have decided to restrict refreshments at their meetings to coffee and water. In the past, the college supplied breakfast, lunch or dinner refreshments at meetings for trustees, who work part-time and are unpaid, and other college officials who attend the sessions.

The board also will allow new trustees to attend only one outside conference so they can learn their roles and responsibilities.

And except for the student trustee, board members no longer will be reimbursed for auto gas mileage while on college business.

Trustees offered to curtail their expenses during talks with Bellone in May when the county executive agreed to SCCC's request for a 3 percent increase in aid, compared with the 1.5 percent increase Bellone originally had offered. It meant $1.5 million more for the school.

Officials say SCCC will save $9,600 a year by cutting back on conference attendance, $3,000 by restricting refreshments and $2,250 by ending mileage reimbursement.

Christopher Murray, the new board chairman, called the initiative “mainly symbolic” but said “it sends the message that we are keeping costs under control.”

College trustees also voted to temporarily name Louis Petrizzo as interim college president at a salary of $235,978 a year, the same amount he received as SCCC's executive vice president and general counsel. Under a new employment contract, Petrizzo will not get the annual $13,700 housing allowance former President Shaun McKay received. But Petrizzo will receive a $1,000-a-month auto allowance, which could be included as income in calculating his pension.

The move comes after trustees in May agreed to a $555,539 settlement with McKay to leave his post 14 months before expiration of his contract. Petrizzo, who is not a candidate for college president, will remain in charge until a presidential search is complete. Murray said the college hopes to have a choice for a new president by next spring or early summer.

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