Onondaga County lawmakers again demand full disclosure on events brought to OCC's SRC Arena

A new twist in the ongoing controversy over the disclosure of financial information surrounding Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena.

Republican legislator Judith Tassone, who chairs the county facilities committee overseeing OCC, says she will hold up the school's budget approval unless the college releases full financial information.

She wants documents regarding the not-for-profit company established to manage the SRC Arena along with three other not-for-profit organizations that have been established through the college.

Tassone was dissatisfied with the contracts OCC released late Monday afternoon, many of which contained redacted information.

"It's difficult to understand what their financial needs are. We ask for and expect complete transparency," said Tassone.

She is calling upon OCC to bring in all financial records when the Onondaga County Legislature's Ways and Means Committee meets on Monday for the college's budget presentation.

Tassone says the college is expected to ask for more than $9 million in taxpayer subsidies for its operating budget. And $5.4 million for capital improvements to the college.

Initially, when it turned down a Freedom of Information request for the contracts, the college reportedly told The Post-Standard that the information would put the school at a competitive disadvantage with other venues.

Lawmakers fear that the arena will take business away from the OnCenter.

Following a meeting of the OCC Board of Trustees Tuesday, OCC President Debbie Sydow and Vice President of College Affiliated Enterprises, David Murphy talked with CNY Central's Jim Kenyon and Glenn Coin of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Sydow said she was "eager to have a dialogue" with the Onondaga County Legislature. She claimed that OCC was "one of the most cost effective" of the 64 public colleges in New York State. Sydow says the college engaged in public/private partnerships to raise revenue for OCC, "We're trying to do more with declining public funding."

Onondaga Community College created four not for profit organizations including Onondaga Enterprises which manages the SRC Arena, along with OCC Housing Development Corporation, the OCC Foundation, and the OCC Association. Murphy says with the exception of Onondaga Enterprises, all have been audited and those audits are open to the public. He says Onondaga Enterprises will be audited after it has completed its first year of operation.

When asked why many of the contracts made public Monday contained redacted information, Murphy said the college was "honoring confidentiality clauses" in the contracts with. Murphy says OCC has hosted 68 events at the SRC Arena of which 60 percent were college or academic related. He says there were 7 days of entertainment events and 8 days of trade shows. Murphy denied that the SRC Arena is taking business away from the OnCenter. He pointed out that the OnCenter utilizes a room occupancy tax because much of its mission is to attract out of town business, whereas OCC events are intended to attract local audiences.

Sydow says the talks with the lawmakers will provide a "teachable opportunity." She called public private/partnerships the "wave of the future."